An impromptu (loosely meaning "offhand") is a free-form musical composition with the character of an ex tempore improvisation as if prompted by the spirit of the moment, usually for a solo instrument, such as piano. The first recorded use of the term impromptu in this sense occurred in 1817, in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, an idea of the publisher to describe a piano piece by Jan Václav Voříšek.
Since the very concept of unpremeditated, spur-of-the-moment inspiration without studied care is at the heart of Romantic artistic theory, it didn't take long before the first generation of Romantic composers took up the idea:
The impromptu genre remained popular all throughout the 19th century.
In the 20th century there are fewer examples of composers naming their compositions "Impromptu", e.g.:
- ^ Journeau's works