Fantaisie for piano and orchestra (Debussy)

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Fantaisie for piano and orchestra, L. 73, is a composition for piano and orchestra by French composer Claude Debussy. It was composed between October 1889 and April 1890 but it received its first public performance only in 1919, a year after Debussy's death, in London by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Alfred Cortot as soloist. It is Debussy's only composition for piano and orchestra and, even though it is written in a three movement form, it was not composed as a Piano Concerto. This 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 3 flutes (3rd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, cymbals, 2 harps, strings and piano.


The Fantaisie is in two movements, the latter of which can be divided into two different, slow and fast, movements. Thus, the work seems to consist of three movements comprising the traditional concerto form, which is a departure from the traditional fantasia form, composed in a single movement.

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

A typical performance lasts for approx. 25 minutes.

Performance history[edit]

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.[2] Over the next years Debussy made numerous revisions but the work was never performed during his lifetime. It finally received its first public performance on November 11, 1919,[1] a year after Debussy's death, in London by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with Alfred Cortot as soloist.[2] Eugène Fromont, one of Debussy's early publishers, released an arrangement for two pianos of the Fantaisie that same year. After the cancellation of the first performance Debussy, who was very self-critical, withdrew the work and he requested that the Fantaisie will never be published or performed during his lifetime.[3] This explains why the first performance of the work was given only after his death.



  1. ^ a b "IMSLP: Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra (Debussy, Claude)". Retrieved 2013-08-17.
  2. ^ a b Mark DeVoto - Debussy's Neglected Fantaisie, Tufts University, The Pendragon Review, pp. 26-45
  3. ^ Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
  4. ^ Canning, Hugh (16 September 2018). On record: Classical. The Sunday Times. Retrieved 20 October 2018 (subscription required).
  5. ^ Smith, Harriet (August 2013). "‘Undersung’ French concertos from Uhlig in Kaiserslautern". Gramophone. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  6. ^ 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 links[edit]