Carmen Fantasy (Sarasate)

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The Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25, by Pablo de Sarasate is a violin fantasy on themes from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. A version with piano accompaniment was published in 1882.[1]

The Carmen Fantasy is one of Sarasate's most well known works and is often performed in violin competitions. Because of its delicate techniques and sanguineous passion inspired by the opera, it is considered to be one of the most challenging and technically demanding pieces for the violin. In technical terms, this composition is slightly more difficult than Sarasate's other popular virtuoso work Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs).[original research?]

The piece contains an adaptation of the Aragonaise, Habanera, an interlude, Seguidilla, and the Gypsy Dance. A performance takes approximately 12 minutes.

The German-American film composer Franz Waxman composed in 1946 a similar work, Carmen Fantasie.


The work consists of five movements.

Allegro moderato
After a short introduction by the orchestra, the violin plays material from the Aragonaise, the entr'acte to act 4. Techiques include glissando, flageolet and pizzicato.
This movement uses material, extensively ornamented, from the Habanera from act 1 ("L'amour est un oiseau rebelle").
Lento assai
Carmen's mocking treatment of Zuniga in act 1 ("Tra la la ... Coupe-moi, brûle-moi") is the theme for this movement; it ends in a flageolet.
Allegro moderato
The Seguidilla from act 1 ("Près des remparts de Séville") is here with ornaments including pizzicato, trill, glissando.
This movement is based on the scene at the beginning of act 2 where Carmen and her friends Frasquita and Mercédès are entertaining Zuniga and other officers ("Les tringles des sistres tintaient"); it ends with virtuoso tempo acceleration.


The work is scored for piccolo and 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, tambourine, harp and strings. There is also an adaptation of the Carmen Fantasy with piano accompaniment.


  1. Musikalisch-literarischer Monatsbericht (in Deutsch). Leipzig: Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag: 344. 1882 Missing or empty |title= (help); |chapter= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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