Definition of fantasia in English:


Pronunciation: /fanˈteɪzɪə//ˌfantəˈziːə/


  • 1A musical composition with a free form and often an improvisatory style.

    • ‘Brahms's Violin Concerto begins with a long ritornello, but for most 19th-century composers sonata form and the fantasia were more important than the ritornello principle.’
    • ‘The finale is a joyous fantasia on much of the music deployed earlier with such skill and evident delight.’
    • ‘The fanfare fantasia before the choral entrance even includes clams.’
    • ‘It falls somewhere between a large symphonic movement and a fantasia.’
    • ‘Though four generations older than Henry Purcell, Orlando Gibbons wrote a body of music for viols that exerts much the same fascination as Purcell's later and more familiar viol fantasias.’
    1. 1.1A musical composition based on several familiar tunes.
      • ‘The famous Pye recordings of Vaughan Williams ‘Greensleeves’ and Thomas Tallis fantasias are reproduced in stunning sound and they remain my particular favourite for these overplayed works.’
      • ‘Dowland, of course, had written seven lute fantasias based on his song ‘Break now, my heart, and die’ under the title Lacrimae, or Seven Teares.’
      • ‘This young Chinese clarinettist's recital of potted fantasias on operas by Verdi, Bellini and Ponchielli is bravura fluff.’
      • ‘Glinka once again established formal and stylistic ground plans for future Russian composers in his orchestral fantasia Kamarinskaya, based on two Russian folk tunes.’
      • ‘As with its corresponding number in the first orchestral set, the second movement - depicting a camp meeting - is a fantasia based mainly on ragtime dances Ives wrote for the piano in the early 1900s.’
    2. 1.2A thing composed of a mixture of different forms or styles.
      ‘the theatre is a kind of Moorish and Egyptian fantasia’
      • ‘This re-release of Amadeus, described by Shaffer as ‘a fantasia based on fact’, boasts 20 additional minutes of music and drama.’
      • ‘Based on Virginia Woolf's glittering fantasia written as a love-letter to Vita Sackville-West, the story covers four hundred years of history.’
      • ‘Perelman's free-associative style spun fantasias out of girdle ads, tabloid tattle, sleazy pulp fiction and recipe prose.’


Early 18th century: from Italian, fantasy, from Latin phantasia (see fantasy).