The Meaning of Sforzando (sfz)

The hut on fowls legs (Baba Yaga), score for 9 movement of Pictures at Exhibition, suite for piano by Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)

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Sforzando sfz is an indication to make a strong, sudden accent on a note or chord. Sforzando literally means subito forzando (fz), which translates to “suddenly with force.”

The effect of sfz may be interpreted and explained in both dynamics (volume) and articulation. Sforzando can be written as a note-accent that appears in sheet music as an upside-down V symbol (observe at the bottom of the sheet music pictured).

Musical commands similar to sfz include:

  • subito forte (sf)
  • subito fortissimo (sff)
  • subito piano (sp)
  • sforzando piano (sfp)

Not to be confused with smorzando or (rfz) rinforzando.

Pronunciation of Sforzando

sfort-ZAHN-doh   (the s blends with the f)

Commonly Mispronounced: ess-four-zan-doh


  • sforzato (It)
  • accent prononcé; soudainement renforcé (Fr)
  • mit plötzlicher Betonung; verstärkt (Ger)