12 Fantasias for Solo Violin (Telemann)

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Georg Philipp Telemann's collection of 12 Fantasias for Solo Violin, TWV 40:14–25, was published in Hamburg in 1735. It is one of Telemann's collections of music for unaccompanied instruments, the others being twelve fantasias for solo flute and thirty-six for solo harpsichord that were published in Hamburg in 1732–33, as well as a set of twelve fantasias for solo viola da gamba that was published in the same city in 1735, but were considered lost until a copy of the print was found in a private collection in 2015 by viola da gamba player and musicologist Thomas Fritzsch.[1]

This collection consists of the following works:

  1. Fantasia in B-flat major (Largo—Allegro—Grave—Si replica l'allegro)
  2. Fantasia in G major (Largo—Allegro—Allegro)
  3. Fantasia in F minor (Adagio—Presto—Grave—Vivace)
  4. Fantasia in D major (Vivace—Grave—Allegro)
  5. Fantasia in A major (Allegro—Presto—Allegro—Andante—Allegro)
  6. Fantasia in E minor (Grave—Presto—Siciliana—Allegro)
  7. Fantasia in E-flat major (Dolce—Allegro—Largo—Presto)
  8. Fantasia in E major (Piacevolumente—Spirituoso—Allegro)
  9. Fantasia in B minor (Siciliana—Vivace—Allegro)
  10. Fantasia in D major (Presto—Largo—Allegro)
  11. Fantasia in F major (Un poco vivace—Soave—Da capo un poco vivace—Allegro)
  12. Fantasia in A minor (Moderato—Vivace—Presto)

This scheme does not resemble that of the twelve flute fantasies, which progress in a roughly stepwise direction from A major to G minor.[2] However, some overall structure seems to be implied: the first movement of Fantasia 7 subtly references the opening of the first fantasia in the collection, indicating that Telemann possibly conceived this work as two groups of 6 fantasias. He has, indeed, described the collection as "12 fantasias [...] of which 6 include fugues and 6 are Galanterien," with "fugues" referencing the contrapuntal style of certain fantasias.[3]

Telemann's violin fantasias exhibit mastery of not only compound melodic lines, but also of idiomatic writing for violin,[4] as Telemann himself was a self-taught violinist. Much of the music reveals the influence of Italian sonatas and concertos, but the typical tendency of German solo violin music to rely on polyphony is still present:[5] fantasias 2, 3, 5, 6, and 10 all include fugues and employ much double-stopping.


  1. ^ Anon. 2015.
  2. ^ Zohn 2008, p. 427 & 428
  3. ^ Zohn 2008, p. 430
  4. ^ Zohn, Grove.
  5. ^ Parish 2000, p. 297 & 298

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