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A fantasia is a free-form composition with an improvisatory feel that abides by no strict rules. Although fantasias have been written for various instruments, it is most common for them to appear in the keyboard repertory, having been written for piano, organ, harpsichord, and fortepiano throughout history. The fantasia became a popular form in the Baroque era and its use continues to today.

In the Baroque era, fantasias were often suitably paired with fugues or other contrapuntal works, such as in the case of Bach. A fantasia could also have alternating sections of rapid fugal material, interspersed with slower melodic sections with denser harmonies. This particular form used in fantasia writing more or less died out with Henry Purcell in the late Baroque.

Suggested listening

Bach, Johann Sebastien

  • Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903, for harpsichord;
  • Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542, for organ;
  • Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 537, for organ

Purcell, Henry

  • Any of the Fantasys from Z. 731 to 745, composed in 1680.

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

  • Fantasia in D minor, K. 397 for fortepiano


  • Fantasy in F minor op. 49


  • Fantasia Contrappuntistica


  • Fantasia on an ostinato

Fauré, Gabriel

  • Fantasie for Flute and Piano, op.79

See also


Musical Forms
Polyphonic forms CanonCanzonaInventionFugueOrganumRicercarRoundSinfornia
Sectional forms Strophic formChain formBinary formTernary formRondo formArch formRitornello form
Cyclical forms BalletConcertoMassOratorioOperaRequiemSonataSong cycleSuiteSymphony
composed forms
BagatelleFantasiaEtudeImpromptuPreludeRhapsodySymphonic poem
Dance forms AllemandeBalladBoleroContradanceEstampieJigPolkaWaltz

French: CouranteGigueMinuetSarabande

Italian: BarcarolleSaltarelloTarantella

Polish: MazurkaPolonaise