Fantasy (compositional form)

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A fantasy , and fantasy or Italian / Spanish Fantasia (Latin-Greek phantasia = thought imagination) and English Fancy , is about a piece of music that has no fixed shape as the classic Sonata has. This unbound form emphasizes the emotional and expressive expression of the musical idea. This idea is to give the impression of, despite his written record spontaneity convey and thus you can also by a note written fixed improvisation speak. Since the name Fantasia appeared in music as early as the 16th century and is still used today, it is not possible to give a more detailed definition. Since the end of the 18th century, the Fantasia has been an instrumental piece, especially for the keyboard instruments that developed further in terms of their expressive possibilities in the course of the 19th century . The boundaries to similar pieces such as Impromptu or a set of variations are fluid.


The term “Fantasia” appears for the first time in the 16th century as the title of a musical work and relates more to the imaginative use of the musical material than to a musical genre and at the time corresponded to the Ricercar . In Germany it was mainly organ music, but also lute music from Spain (cf. Tiento ), France and Italy (cf. also Italian “canzona” ) containing polyphonic or at least imitating elements in the movement . As a name for such pieces of music, the fantasy first appeared in lute tablatures by Luis Milán ( e.g. the four-part works Fantasía del quarto tono and Fantasía de consonancias y redobles from 1536 in the El Maestro collection with 40 pieces entitled Fantasia in different keys), Francesco da Milano , Melchior de Barberis (1549), Alonso Mudarra and Miguel de Fuenllana ( Orphenica lyra , 1554) as well as guitar tablatures (by Gregor Brayssing, Quart livre de tabulature de guiterre. Paris 1553). In England, where Anthony Holborne , but also the composer and lutenist John Dowland composed fantasies for the lute (see also John Dowland # work ), evidenced for example in Robert Dowland's work Variety of Lute Lesson from 1610, was documented from around 1573 to 1680 cultivated the form of fancy (fantasy) in chamber music . This music developed from the instrumental performance of motets , which were imitated and varied with or without a singing voice. The purely instrumental fancy ( virginal compositions ) can be found in collections such as Fitzwilliam Virginal Book , among others by William Byrd . In France, Pierre Phalèse published Fantasies with Hortulus Cytharae (1570) by anonymous authors. The development reached its first high point in Italy with the fantasies of Girolamo Frescobaldi and the compositions of the Dutchman Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck around 1610. Since imitation was an essential compositional tool, numerous echo fantasies arose.

Choral fantasies were particularly popular in the Baroque, the most famous representative of which in German-speaking countries is Johann Sebastian Bach . These chorale fantasies also appeared in the form of a prelude , for example as a prelude to Bach's Leipzig chorales ( Fantasia super: Come, Holy Spirit, Lord God ) or in front of various fugues , or as a toccata . Bach also referred to his inventions and symphonies in earlier editions as Fantasia (in the piano book for Wilhelm Friedemann Bach ).

His son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, describes in his “Attempt on the True Art of Playing the Clavier” from 1787 that fantasizing and thus also the fantasy is part of playing a keyboard instrument: “We have explained above that a piano player is made particularly through fantasies which do not consist of memorized passages or stolen thoughts, but must come from a good musical soul, which can do the speaking, the quick surprising from one affect to the other, alone excellently in front of the rest of the sound artist ”. With this unbound style and the tendency to affect, he puts sensitivity in the foreground. His Fantasy in F sharp minor H.300 Wq.67 with the subtitle "Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Sensations" begins bound, d. H. with a fixed bar division, but this has been omitted in the meantime, so that there is no bar line in the score for a longer passage.

In 1802 Heinrich Christoph Koch defined fantasies in his "Musical Lexicon" as musical works which are characterized by the composer's expressiveness: "Fantasy. This is the name given to the play expressed by tones and, as it were, thrown out of the composer's imagination and inventiveness, or such a piece of clay from the palm of the hand, in which the player is neither in form nor main key, nor in keeping a constant measure of time to the retention of a certain character, but rather presents its sequence of ideas, now in precisely connected, now in loosely strung together melodic movements, now only in chords that follow one another and are in some ways broken down. But the name Fantasie is also given to real exposed pieces of music, in which the composer neither relies on a specific form, nor on an exactly coherent order of the sequence of thoughts and the like. binds, and because the ideal produced by genius, by further processing into a more strictly ordered whole, does not lose the slightest of its first liveliness, it very often contains features that are far more prominent and apt than one according to forms and other necessary properties perfectly finished piece of clay. It is the same as with the drawings in painting, where the execution and perfect representation of the painting often lose some of the finer features of the ideal that is still present in the drawing. "

Just like Koch, Gustav Schilling in his "Textbook of General Musicology" from 1840 differentiates freely fantasized or improvised from the bound, i.e. H. Fantasies fixed in writing: “If that momentary idea, that momentary surrender to activity, is given a more lyrical impetus in fine expression, then we call the resulting tonal work fantasy. But here a so-called free fantasy has to be distinguished from the bound or written fantasy. ”Schilling gives the following information about the instrumentation:“ Usually such bound (written) fantasies, just like the improvised free ones, are only intended for one instrument, with or without Accompaniment and, depending on its internal and external nature, also suitable for concert pieces; but one has probably already tried to compose such pieces of music for a whole orchestra, in polyphonic form, as far more aptly as the symphonies are in their place and could not be displaced by a few successful attempts. "

In the classical period there are examples of fantasies in Mozart , Schubert , and Schumann . In 1801 Beethoven called the so-called moonlight sonata “Sonata quasi una Fantasia”. It is dedicated to Julie Guicciardi, with whom Beethoven was in love and with whom he dreamed of marrying her. Here the title Fantasia also refers to the expressiveness of the feelings and a dreamlike idea. This notion is more common in the Romantic era.

Another type of fantasy gained importance in the 19th century in the form of paraphrases, for example by Liszt or Thalberg . In times when music was not technically reproducible, but a piano was often available in middle-class families, they were used to make music mainly from operas known to a larger audience beyond the opera stage.

The tradition that in Fantasia the poetic moment determines the form a. Frédéric Chopin with his Fantaisie-Impromptu op. 66 from 1834.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Max Reger and Ferruccio Busoni explored Bach artistically in their fantasies. Apart from organ music, however, the title Fantasy is becoming increasingly rare in the 20th century.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. translation, Latin dictionary
  2. Imagination. In: The Brockhaus Music. 2nd Edition. Mannheim 2001, p. 210.
  3. Frances Mattingly and Reginald Smith Brindle: Foreword to Antonio Casteliono: Intabolatura de Leuto de Diversi Autori. (1536). Trascrizione in notazione moderna di Reginald Smith Brindle. Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, Milan (1974) 1978, p. XIII
  4. ^ Konrad Ragossnig : Handbook of the guitar and lute. Schott, Mainz 1978, ISBN 3-7957-2329-9 , p. 108.
  5. István Szabó (Ed.): Luis Milá (ca 1500 – ca. 1561): Complete Solo Works for Guitar. Complete solo works for guitar: El Maestro (1536). 2 volumes. Könemann Music, Budapest 2000 (= K. Volume 156–157), ISBN 963-9155-07-1 and ISBN 963-9155-08-X , Volume 1, pp. 3–60, and Volume 2, pp. 6– 51 and 70-95.
  6. ^ Emilio Pujol (ed.): Hispanae Citharae Ars Viva. A collection of selected guitar music from old tabs, edited by Emilio Pujol. (Spanish, French, English and German) Schott, Mainz 1956 (= guitar archive. Volume 176), pp. 4–7.
  7. ^ Reginald Smith Brindle (ed.): Antonio Castelioni, Intabolatura de Leuto de Diversi Autori. (Casteliono, Milan 1536) Edizioni Suvini Zerboni, Milan 1978 (= Edizioni Suvini Zerboni. Volume 7922), passim ( Fantasia del Divino Francesco da Milano and other fantasies.
  8. ^ Melchior (e) de Barberis: Intabulatura di Liute. 1549. See Adalbert Quadt (Ed.): Guitar music from the 16th to 18th centuries. Century. 4 volumes. Edited from tablature. Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1970–1984, volume 1, p. 1 ( 2 fantasies ) and 57 f.
  9. Frederick Noad: The Renaissance Guitar. (= The Frederick Noad Guitar Anthology. Part 1) Ariel Publications, New York 1974; Reprint: Amsco Publications, New York / London / Sydney, UK ISBN 0-7119-0958-X , US ISBN 0-8256-9950-9 , pp. 74 f. and 108 f.
  10. Heinz Teuchert (ed.): Masters of the Renaissance (= My first guitar pieces. Book 3). G. Ricordi & Co. Bühnen- und Musikverlag, Munich 1971 (= Ricordi. Sy. 2201), ISBN 978-3-931788-33-9 , p. 16 ( Fantasia ).
  11. ^ Konrad Ragossnig: Handbook of the guitar and lute. 1978, p. 108.
  12. Keiji Makuta: 51 selections for Lute in renaissance era. Arranged for guitar. Zen-On, Tokyo 1969, ISBN 4-11-238540-4 , p. 72 ( Fantasia ).
  13. Frederick Noad: The Renaissance Guitar. 1974, pp. 111-113.
  14. Adalbert Quadt (ed.): Guitar music from the 16th to 18th centuries Century. 4 volumes. Edited from tablature. Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1970–1984, Volume 1, p. 4.
  15. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Attempt on the true way of playing the piano, Leipzig 1787, page 92.
  16. Heinrich Christoph Koch, Art. "Fantasy", in: ders. "Musikalisches Lexikon", Frankfurt am Main 1802, columns 554–555.
  17. Gustav Schilling, article "Fantasy", the same, textbook of general musicology, Karlsruhe 1840, pages 550–551.
  18. Ibid, page 552
  19. ^ Website of the Beethoven House in Bonn
  20. ^ Website of the Fabian Norman Verlag