What does rubato mean in music

Music lexicon: what does tempo rubato mean?

Tempo rubato, Rubamento di Tempo (1865)

Tempo rubato (stolen time), Rubamento di Tempo.

  1. Delays and accelerations of individual notes or entire parts in time and tempo, whereby either the notes are robbed of some of their actual time values ​​or a movement is added that is actually stolen from another tempo; how in the emotional performance of cantable melodies with moderate movement, the duration of the tones is somewhat lengthened or shortened, so that a kind of confusion of the beat arises,
    which, however, is compensated for by the presentation of the next notes in the correct measure. Every now and then this type of presentation can make an impact, but if it is easily affected, it also belongs more to virtuosity with its "individual penetration and fine elaboration of the compositional intentions". Examples in notes cannot be given well for this.
  2. The shifting of the accent to unaccented bar segments or segment parts, which then usually lasts for a few bars (example a).
  3. The mixture of an odd time signature into an even one, which is not indicated by changing the time signature, but only recognized from the nature of the tone figure and its natural accent (example b).

Tempo Rubato Examples

Compare also Akzent and Imbroglio. [Dommer Musical Lexicon 1865, 831]

Tempo rubato (1840)

Tempo rubato, stolen time measure; means a movement that has been taken from a different time signature - namely when short unaccented notes fall on a good time and vice versa (e.g. syncope). A certain performance style of some solo singers and players is so called when they can withstand and accentuate a short note longer than prescribed at the expense of a longer one that follows - and vice versa. [Gathy Encyclopedia Music Science 1840, 461]