Fantaisie for piano and orchestra (Debussy)

Fantaisie for piano and orchestra (L.73/CD.72), is a composition for piano and orchestra by French composer Claude Debussy. It was composed between October 1889 and April 1890, but only received its first public performance in 1919, a year after Debussy's death. The work is dedicated to the pianist René Chansarel, who had been scheduled to play the solo part for the cancelled premiere in 1890.[1]


The Fantaisie is scored for:

piano solo;

3 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais (English horn), 2 (soprano) clarinets in B, 3 bassoons, bass clarinet in B;

4 (French) (valve) horns in F, 3 trumpets in F;

2 harps;

strings (1st & 2nd violins, violas, cellos, double basses).


The Fantaisie is in three movements, as in a traditional concerto, with the first movement in sonata form, a slow, calm middle movement, and an energetic finale.[2] This despite the title, a fantasia is traditionally in a single movement with several sections of vastly different character, and contains no "sonata form". The title Fantaisie was given to this work because it is in cyclic form: it uses the same two themes in all three movements.[2]

  1. Andante ma non troppo (G major)
  2. Lento e molto espressivo (F-sharp major)
  3. Allegro molto (G major)

A typical performance lasts approximately 25 minutes.

Performance and publicationEdit

The first public performance of the work, scheduled in 1890, was cancelled when Vincent d'Indy, who was chosen as conductor, claimed that he did not have enough time for rehearsals and proposed to perform only the first movement, which Debussy declined.[3] Over the next few years the very self-critical Debussy made numerous revisions, but eventually gave up on the work and declared that the Fantaisie would never be published or performed during his lifetime.[4] It received its first public performance posthumously on November 20, 1919,[1] in London by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Alfred Cortôt as soloist.[3] It was published first in a two-piano version (2nd piano is a reduction of the orchestra score) made by Gustave Samazeuilh in 1919, with the full score in 1920, both by Eugène Fromont, one of Debussy's early publishers.



  1. ^ a b "IMSLP: Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra (Debussy, Claude)". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  2. ^ a b Max Pommer (1975). "Concluding remarks". In Max Pommer (ed.). Claude Debussy: Klavierwerke, Band X, Fantaisie pour piano et orchestre, Ausgabe für zwei Klaviere zu vier Händen (PDF). Translated by Jürgen Schröder. Leipzig: Edition Peters. p. 81–82.
  3. ^ a b Mark DeVoto - Debussy's Neglected Fantaisie, Tufts University, The Pendragon Review, pp. 26-45
  4. ^ Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
  5. ^ Canning, Hugh (16 September 2018). On record: Classical. The Sunday Times. Retrieved 20 October 2018 (subscription required).
  6. ^ Smith, Harriet (August 2013). "‘Undersung’ French concertos from Uhlig in Kaiserslautern". Gramophone. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  7. ^ Pomeroy, Boyd (July 2010). "Ravel: Piano Concerto in G. Left-Hand Concerto/Franck: Symphonic Variations/Debussy: Fantasy in G". Fanfare. Retrieved 20 October 2018 (subscription required).

External linksEdit