/fan tay"zheuh, -zhee euh, fan'teuh zee"euh/, n.
1. Music.
a. a composition in fanciful or irregular form or style.
b. a potpourri of well-known airs arranged with interludes and florid embellishments.
2. fantasy (def. 9).
3. something considered to be unreal, weird, exotic, or grotesque.
[1715-25; < It; see FANTASY]

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Musical composition free in form and inspiration, often for an instrumental soloist.

Most fantasias try to convey the impression of improvisation. The first were Italian works for lute (с 1530). Keyboard fantasias became common in the late 16th century; both organ and harpsichord fantasias flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain, Germany, and France. Fugal, imitative texture, sometimes highly learned in character, was common from the beginning, often alternating with running passagework and highly chromatic chordal passages in free rhythms. Ensemble fantasias were widely composed as well.

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also called  fantasy  or  fancy  

      in music, a composition free in form and inspiration, usually for an instrumental soloist; in 16th- and 17th-century England the term was applied especially to fugal (fugue) compositions (i.e., based on melodic imitation) for consorts of string or wind instruments. Earlier 16th-century fantasias for lute or keyboard consisted of short sections based on one or more musical motives. In England the fantasy or fancy for keyboard, lute, or viola had a late flowering at the time of Henry Purcell (1659–95).

      In the 17th and early 18th centuries in Germany the organ Fantasie reflected this improvisatory (improvisation) character, in direct contrast to the highly structured fugue that usually followed. Freedom of form and execution persisted in the fantasias of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–88), Mozart, Beethoven, and Franz Schubert, some of which retained the fugal element as well. Robert Schumann in his Fantasie, Opus 17 (1836), and Frédéric Chopin in his Fantaisie in F Minor (1840) maintained the tradition of a single, self-contained movement, at least outwardly. But later works, including Arnold Schoenberg's Phantasy for Violin and Piano (1949), frequently recall the sectionalized arrangement that prevailed during the Renaissance and early Baroque periods. The complex contrapuntal keyboard fantasias of J.S. Bach (e.g., Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, c. 1720), on the other hand, inspired similar works by Franz Liszt, Max Reger, and Ferruccio Busoni. Some composers have exploited the fantasia for its programmatic, or descriptive, possibilities, among them John Mundy (died 1630), who wrote a fantasia on the weather, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who composed his symphonic fantasy Francesca da Rimini in 1876. While appealing particularly to the romantic imagination, the fantasia served, from the beginning, also as a vehicle for instrumental elaboration of vocal music (e.g., Schubert's “Wanderer” fantasy [1822], based on one of his own songs, and Ralph Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on “Greensleeves” [1934]).

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