FANTASIA (Italian for "fantasy," a causing to be seen, from Greek, 'to show'), a name in music sometimes loosely used for a composition which has little structural form, and appears to be an improvization; and also for a combination or medley of familiar airs connected together with original passages of more or less brilliance. The word, however, was originally applied to more formal compositions, based on the madrigal, for several instruments. Fantasias appear as distinct compositions in Bach's works, and also joined to a fugue, as in the "Great Fantasia and Fugue" in A minor, and the "Fantasia cromatica" in D minor. Brahms used the name for his shorter piano pieces. It is also applied to orchestral compositions "not long enough to be called symphonic poems and not formal enough to be called overtures" (Sir C. Hubert Parry, in Grove's Dictionary of Music, ed. 1906). The Italian word is still used in Tunis, Algeria and Morocco, with the meaning of "showing off," for an acrobatic exhibition of horsemanship by the Arabs. The riders fire their guns, throw them and their lances into the air, and catch them again, standing or kneeling in the saddle, all at a full gallop.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)