Fantasy for piano and orchestra

I. Andante ma non troppo II. Lento e molto espressivo III. Allegro molto

Debussy originally wrote his Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra as an entry for the Prix de Rome competition, but in the end, elected not to submit it to the judging committee. This gesture is eloquent, and sheds some light on the strange story of how its premiere never took place. It was scheduled for premiere on April 21st 1890 (conducted by Vicent d'Indy with pianist René Chansarel, the work's dedicatee.) For reasons still unclear, d'Indy decided during the rehearsals that he would only conduct the first movement. When Debussy learned of this, he unexpectedly gathered up the orchestral parts, only informing d'Indy later that he would rather hear all three movements, however mediocre the performance, than just one, however fine. This incident did not have to lead to the Fantasy's ultimate neglect, but Debussy desisted from urging a new premiere, perhaps demonstrating that the conflicts obstructing its premiere were less between d'Indy and Debussy than within the composer himself. After composing the Fantasy, Debussy arrived at an important creative turning point, and we know from Maurice Emmanuel's reminiscences that there was a recurring argument between them over Debussy's insistent criticism of the sonata constructed on two contrasting themes and the basic Beethovenian principals of the “development section”, which he had himself adhered to in the Fantasy. It therefore seems like that his decision to withdraw the work owed more to his internal dissatisfaction, and that d'Indy's strong-headedness was only a pretext for his action. Later though ,we know that Debussy judged it a valuable work. In a letter to Roger Ducasse written in 1909, he mentions that he was considering revising it.