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The Préludes are for several reasons very much related to the Etudes of op. 10 & 25. While composing them, Chopin had a conception similar to Bach with the Well Tempered Clavier: like his predecessor, Chopin put all Préludes into an order of tonalities, however with a difference; in the Well Tempered Clavier all tonalities are rising chromatically, while Chopin put his Préludes into an order which follows the circle of tonalities. It is known that Chopin studied thoroughly the works of Bach before writing his Préludes. He admired a lot the perfection of form and harmony in Bach's music. Inspite of this example, however, Chopin created something completely new. Originally the french word "prélude" means nothing else than "introduction", but in this form Chopin let the 24 Préludes develop into independent pieces of music.

Robert Schumann: "I would term the Preludes strange. They are sketches, beginnings of Etudes, or, so to speak, ruins, individual eagle pinions, all disorder and wild confusions."

Franz Liszt (1841): "Chopin's Preludes are compositions of an order entirely apart. They are not only, as the title might make one think, pieces destined to be played in the guise of introductions to other pieces; they are poetic preludes, analogous to those of a great contemporary poet, who cradles the soul in golden dreams, and elevates it to the regions of the ideal."



The Chopin Preludes
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Click on a prelude for a description, recording and sheet music.

        - Op. 28 No. 1        - Op. 28 No. 13
        - Op. 28 No. 2        - Op. 28 No. 14
        - Op. 28 No. 3        - Op. 28 No. 15
        - Op. 28 No. 4        - Op. 28 No. 16
        - Op. 28 No. 5        - Op. 28 No. 17
        - Op. 28 No. 6        - Op. 28 No. 18
        - Op. 28 No. 7        - Op. 28 No. 19
        - Op. 28 No. 8        - Op. 28 No. 20
        - Op. 28 No. 9        - Op. 28 No. 21
        - Op. 28 No. 10      - Op. 28 No. 22
        - Op. 28 No. 11      - Op. 28 No. 23
        - Op. 28 No. 12      - Op. 28 No. 24

        - Preludes Manuscripts Photographs

Prelude Op. 28 No. 1, Agitato, in C Major

Composed in Majorca in January 1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel and Johann Kessler.

This is an arabesque of the finest colours.

Vladimir de Pachmann: "The first one is in a style that reminds one very forcibly of Schumann."

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Reunion".


Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 2, Lento, in A Minor

Composed in Majorca, Nov/Dec of 1838, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Some say this Prelude is composed in Stuttgart.

The Polish pianist Jan Kleczynski (1837-1895) prefered to play the first Prelude two times, and then skip this prelude becouse he felt this prelude was too bizar to play.

Vladimir de Pachmann: "The second is, I think, somewhat poor and I remember that Liszt himself once told me that he thought it a little weak."

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Presentiment of Death".


Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 3, Vivace, in G Major

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Vladimir de Pachmann: "The third, though it has not a very high meaning, is a delightful little prelude. The melody is so smooth that it reminds me of oil floating on water, while a sort of zither accompaniment is running."

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Thou Art So Like a Flower".


Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 4, Largo, in E Minor

Composed in Majorca, November/December of 1838, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Walter Gieseking recommend pedaling for the opening of this Prelude: "The right-hand upbeat is very important. Pedal first on the second note and hold the same padal into the first measure."

This Prelude was played on organ at Chopin's funeral.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Suffocation".


Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 5, Allegro molto, in D Major

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Uncertainty".

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 6, Lento assai, in b Minor

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Tolling Bells".

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 7, Andantino, in A Major

Composed in 1836, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Dencausse Federico Mompou (1893-1987) composed a "Variaciones sobre un tema di Chopin" based on this Prelude.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "The Polish Dancer".

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 8, Molto Agitato, in F Sharp Minor

Composed between 1836/1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Some say this one was composed in Majorca during a thunderstorm.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Desperation".

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 9, Largo, in E Major

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

This Prelude uses 48 different chords!

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Vision".

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 10, Allegro Molto, C sharp Minor

Composed in Majorca November/December of 1838, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

A little cappricio.

Vladimir de Pachmann:"In the tenth Chopin seems to me to point at and imitate his master, Hummel"

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "The Night Moth"; "A night moth is flying around the room-there! It has suddenly hidden itself (the sustained G Sharp); only its wings twitch a little. In a moment it takes flight anew and again settles down in darkness - its wings flutter (trill in the left hand). This happens several times, but at the last, just as the wings begin to quiver again, the busybody who lives in the room aims a stroke at the poor insect. It twitches once . . . and dies."


Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 11, Vivace, B Major

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "The Dragon Fly".

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 12, Presto, G Sharp Minor

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839 , dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

This one could have been an etude as well.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "The Duel".

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 13, Lento, F Sharp Major

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839 dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Loss"

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 14, Allegro, E Flat Minor

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Tamas Vasary about this prelude: "This is a torturous, frustrated piece. It wants to go in a certain direction, starting as if to go forwards. Then it falters and falls back. It is a very chromatic work, alternating between minor and major. At the end you fall on the tonic without a preceding dominant. You are here but no solution.This is the atmosphere I find. therefore I don't play it quickly becouse I would lose this torturous, frustrated, faltering, condtradictory quality."

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Fear".

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 15, Sostenuto, D Flat Major, The "Raindrop" Prelude

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839 , dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

George Sand wrote: "There is one that came to him through an evening of dismal rain--it casts the soul into a terrible dejection. Maurice and I had left him in good health one morning to go shopping in Palma for things we needed at our "encampment." The rain came in overflowing torrents. We made three leagues in six hours, only to return in the middle of a flood. We got back in absolute dark, shoeless, having been abandoned by our driver to cross unheard of perils. We hurried, knowing how our sick one would worry. Indeed he had, but now was as though congealed in a kind of quiet desperation, and, weeping, he was playing his wonderful Prelude. Seeing us come in, he got up with a cry, then said with a bewildered air and a strange tone, "Ah, I was sure that you were dead." When he recovered his spirits and saw the state we were in, he was ill, picturing the dangers we had been through, but he confessed to me that while waiting for us he had seen it all in a dream, and no longer distinguishing the dream from reality, he became calm and drowsy. While playing the piano, persuaded that he was dead himself. He saw himself drowned in a lake. Heavy drops of icy water fell in a regular rhythm on his breast, and when I made him listen to the sound of the drops of water indeed falling in rhythm on the roof, he denied having heard it. He was even angry that I should interpret this in terms of imitative sounds. He protested with all his might--and he was right to--against the childishness of such aural imitations. His genius was filled with the mysterious sounds of nature, but transformed into sublime equivalents in musical thought, and not through slavish imitation of the actual external sounds. His composition of that night was surely filled with raindrops, resounding clearly on the tiles of the Charterhouse, but it had been transformed in his imagination and in his song into tears falling upon his heart from the sky. "

Sand does not specify the key or number of the prelude written on this occasion, and, although the Db major Prelude is usually given the informal title "Raindrop", in fact the story could apply to any of the melancholy preludes with a repetitive figure (A minor, E minor, and B minor come to mind, as well as Db major).

Hans von Bulow also called this Prelude "Raindrop".


Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 16, Presto Con Fuoco, B Flat Minor

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839 , dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

If you play this Prelude in the desired whirlwind tempo "presto con fuoco", you will fnd that the prime difficulty of this Prelude is not the obvious difficulty of the right hand's 16th-notes, but the follow-through motion required to play the three-note left-hand groups all in one sweep.

Vladimir De Pachmann: "The sixteenth is my great favorite! It is la plus grande tour de force in Chopin. It is the most difficult of all the preludes technically, possibly excepting the nineteenth. In this case presto is not enough. It should be played prestissimo, or, better still, vivacissimo."

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Hades".

Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 17, Allegretto, A Flat Major

Composed in 1836, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

A little Romance, in which Chopin introduces some harmonies not previously found in other compositions. This one was the favorite of Clara Schumann and Anton Rubinstein.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "A Scene on the Place de Notre-Dame de Paris".

Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 18, Allegro Molto, F Minor

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Suicide".

Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 19, Vivace, E Flat Major

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Heartfelt Happiness".

Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 20, Largo, C Minor

Composed between 1836-1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Chopin did originally ended this piece at bar 9.

Based on this prelude, Rachmanninov composed his "Variations on the Theme of Chopin". These variations scare off even the best of pianists - they last more than a half of an hour and they are both technically and musically demanding.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Funeral March".

Recording :: Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 21, Cantabile, B Flat Major

Composed in Majorca, November/December of 1838, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Sunday".

Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 22, Molto Agitato, G Minor

Composed between 1836 - 1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Vladimir de Pachmann: "In the twenty-second Prelude, Chopin created energetic modern octave play. It was the first prelude of its kind in the world"

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "Impatience".

Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 23, Moderato, F Major

Composed between 1836 - 1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Vladimir de Pachmann: "In the twenty-third Prelude pretty well all the editions indicate short legato passages. Chopin never played such passages. He sometimes introduced a long legato passage, but never short ones of a few notes only."

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "A Pleasure Boat".

Sheet Music



Prelude Op. 28 No. 24, Allegro Appassionato, D Minor

Composed between 1836 - 1839, published in 1839, dedicated to Camille Pleyel.

Vladimir de Pachmann: "In the twenty-fourth the amateur would do well to remember that the whole beauty of this prelude is generally spoilt by the left-hand notes being banged. The should be masque the whole time and should never be allowed to drown the right hand."

Hans von Bulow called this Prelude "The Storm".

Sheet Music



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