Stylus phantasticus was an early Baroque style of composing. Rooted in toccatas and fantasias for organ, the style represents a free, improvisatory form without the confines of a libretto. Bach was surely influenced in this style of writing during his long visit to Lübeck to meet organist, Dietrich Buxtehude in 1705, as Buxtehude was a strong proponent of stylus phantasticus.
The Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor (BWV 903) is a formidable example of Bach’s exploration of stylus phantasticus. Enjoy pianist, András Schiff’s live performance of this work at The Greene Space in 2013.