Each key, its own universe
But whose? You may ask.
Is it Bach? Shostakovich?
Today it’s Chopin
Preludes to infinity,
Where will they lead you?
Pianist James Rhodes has posted an interesting video at Apple Music. He urges people to take the time, just a little time each day, to do something they have always wanted to do. Want to play the piano? He says there are pieces even a beginner can learn if they put in some time, some effort. He suggests Chopin’s Prelude in E minor.
Imagine playing it for your friends. Not a piano person? Ok, how about guitar? (sweet lesson on playing the prelude here). Friends not into classical music? I think Jimmy Page has it covered here. Don’t get me started on Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai.
Not a guitarist, not a musician at all? Then press play and play it for your friends. You’ve just become an ambassador of classical music. And think of how much music you’d get to know, if you listened to just a little every day.
So how about those preludes?
Chopin wrote them in the winter of 1838-39 in Majorca. At the time, Chopin was immersed in Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, two volumes each containing 24 preludes and fugues in all major and minor keys. Chopin’s preludes are brief, lasting from 12 to 90 measures. Some are immensely challenging to play. Each seems to convey an emotion, but which one is open to interpretation. Alfred Cortot and Hans von Bülow (who was married to Liszt’s daughter Cosima, before she left him for Wagner; read his quotes at the bottom of the Wikipedia article for a laugh) wrote brief descriptions for each prelude, but experience them for yourself, and see what each says to you.
Now I think I have some practicing to do.
Here are some resources if you’d like to know more about Chopin’s preludes.
First, of course, the sheet music, if you’d like to try that Prelude in E minor or follow as you listen (scroll down for sheet music) http://imslp.org/wiki/Preludes,_Op.28_(Chopin,_Fr%C3%A9d%C3%A9ric)
Inevitably, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preludes_(Chopin)
Radio Chopin, where you can hear each prelude individually http://www.radiochopin.org/the-preludes
Analysis] Discussion of the individual preludes: brief (http://www.chopinmusic.net/works/preludes/), with moderate detail (http://culture.pl/en/article/breaking-down-chopins-24-preludes) and [ in depth] more (http://www.ourchopin.com/analysis/prelude.html)
A thesis paper on the history of the prelude and Chopin’s preludes in particular at http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1947&context=theses