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1750 - 1791

Fantasy in F Minor, KV 608

arranged by Mark Starr for forchestra
from Mozart's original work for mechanical organ (1790)

[unfinished portrait of Mozart]

link to biography of Mozart

A demo recording of this arrangement -- realized with digital musical sounds -- will begin to play automatically upon opening this page.  If you do not wish listen to it, please click on the STOP button (or the PAUSE button) on the media player, below. You may wish to adjust the volume on your computer to a more comfortable level.


The second of Mozart's two fantasies for large mechanical organ, the Fantasy in F minor KV 608, is one of his greatest instrumental works. It was commissioned in 1790 by Count Joseph Deym von Stritez in Vienna.  Deym had recently returned to the city after years living abroad in exile, his sentence for a fatal duel.  He launched a lavished exposition -- the Muller Exhibition Hall and Mausoleum --  to honor Field Marshal Laudon (a recently deceased Austrian war hero.)  The venture proved highly successful.

One of the highlights of the exhibition was a mechanical organ which performed music by Mozart.  The first work that Mozart composed for Deym was the Fantasy in F minor, KV 594.  Mark Starr's orchestration of this work can also be found on this website at this link.

Count Joseph Deym von Stritez'
Muller Exhibition Hall and Mausoleum in Vienna

The second fantasy for mechanical organ, KV 608, is a monumental instrumental work that, musically speaking, ranks among any of the movements in Mozart's final three symphonies. In terms of dramatic power, polyphonic complexity, memorable themes, compositional virtuosity, and harmonic adventurousness, it has few peers in Mozart's catalogue. At more than eight minutes in duration, it is one of Mozart's grandest architectural structures.  In this work,  Mozart essentially created a new form in which the elements of an entire multi-movement symphony are coherently organized into one organic movement.

In terms of musical content, the recurring theme is about as close to Beethovenian rage as Mozart ever came. In the slow section (in the middle,) one can hear Mozart at his most sublime. The polyphonic writing in the fugues is almost as complex as that in the finale of the 'Jupiter' Symphony. And the chromatic second subject of the double fugue that concludes the work resembles a wild Hungarian gypsy dance that suggests the anachronistic hand of Johannes Brahms

That such an extraordinary late work by Mozart has remained, until now, virtually unknown to the general music-listening public is the result of a lack of a suitable medium for performance. Attempts by human organists to play the work (and there have been several) are usually pathetic struggles.  They slow the allegro down to a crawl and give little idea of this music's power and beauty.

Mozart composed this music for a machine that could play any combination of notes at any speed.  At last freed from the limitations of ten fingers and two feet, he composed a piece that went far beyond human capabilities.

Here is a small 18th Century mechanical organ (probably not that of Count Deym.)  It was driven manually by the handle at the side.  It may have been spring loaded.  Mozart works descend to an F, one octave-and-a-half below Middle C.  Consequently, Count Deym's mechanical organ must have contained some pipes that were several feet long.

In a letter to his wife, Mozart confided that he hated the sound of the 'small pipes' of Count Deym's instrument. But the primitive sonorous resources of this instrument did not deter Mozart from envisioning a colossal creation - which he wrote out on four staves, with no dynamics or coloristic suggestions.

In the view of Mark Starr, the arranger of this orchestration, Mozart evidently conceived this work in his mind's ear for orchestra.  It is only with the expanded technical and sonic resources of a full orchestra (full, that is, for Mozart's time) that all the musical elements in this vast work can be heard distinctly and fully appreciated.

duration:  8 minutes


2 flutes

2 oboes

2 clarinets

2 bassoons

2 horns

2 trumpets





The full score for Mark Starr's arrangement of Fantasy in F Major, KV 594, is available online for perusal, audition, purchase, downloading and printing.  Here is a link to the full score




Orchestral parts are available on rental from Noteworthy Musical Editions for public performances and/or commercial recordings.