Ignaz Moscheles: The Free Fantasia as the Connecting Link To his Three Styles of Virtuosity and Composed Fantasias


The article proposes a new connection between Ignaz Moscheles’ virtuosity as a pianist and his free and composed fantasias. It was the extemporised free fantasia that acted as the connecting link between his careers as performer and composer. From the beginning of his career as a pianist he was renowned for his virtuosic skills. It was not until 1819 that he also began to be acknowledged as a great composer. This change and the improvement of his compositions is closely linked to the development of his free fantasias and the succeeding published fantasias. The article firstly interrogates the different approaches to virtuosity that emerged within Moscheles’ role as a composer-performer throughout Europe over thirty years. It proposes that Moscheles developed three styles of virtuosity which were highly linked with his free fantasias. His extemporisation practices within his European concert programmes are analysed further, with regard to the choice of themes and how their technique is linked to Moscheles’ virtuosity. To reflect further upon his extemporisation technique, the four published fantasias The Recollections of Ireland, Sir Walter Scott’s favourite Strains of the Scottish Bards, Anticipations of Scotland and Souvenirs de Denmark are discussed as examples.

Find it at: Ad Parnassum. A Journal of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Instrumental Music, Volume 18, Issue 35 (April/October 2020), pp. 87-123, issn 1722-3954, © Ut Orpheus Edizioni.