Prelude, Op. 28, No. 4 (Chopin)

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The Prelude Op. 28, No. 4 by Frédéric Chopin is one of the 24 Chopin preludes. By Chopin's request, this piece was played at his own funeral, along with Mozart's Requiem.


Hans von Bülow called the prelude "suffocation", due to its sense of despair. In fact, Chopin's last dynamic marking in the piece is smorzando, which means "dying away". But the prelude may have once been given a title. According to George Sand's daughter Solange, who stayed with the composer at the monastery in Majorca when the preludes were written, "My mother gave a title to each of Chopin’s wonderful Preludes; these titles have been preserved on a score he gave to us." [1] That titled score is lost. But Solange did record the names of the preludes, apparently without assigning the names to the prelude numbers.[2] It is believed that the title "Quelles larmes au fond du cloître humide?" ("What tears [are shed] from the depths of the damp monastery?") corresponds to Prelude No. 4.

Cultural legacy[edit]

  • Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote a song called "Insensatez" that is based on the Prelude No. 4.
  • Serge Gainsbourg based his 1969 song "Jane B" on this prelude.
  • Jack Nicholson's character plays the prelude in its entirety in the 1970 film Five Easy Pieces.
  • This piece is featured in The West Wing Episode Han, and is used as the embodiment of Han, for which "There is no literal English translation. It's a state of mind. Of soul, really. A sadness. A sadness so deep no tears will come. And yet still there's hope."
  • The 2002 film The Pianist has this composition on its soundtrack.
  • It is included on the soundtrack to the 2004 film The Notebook.
  • Radiohead drew inspiration from the prelude while writing their song "Exit Music (For a Film)", which was written for the film Romeo + Juliet, and which featured on the band's album OK Computer.[citation needed]
  • The piece is featured in the 1961 British thriller Taste of Fear (US title: Scream of Fear).
  • Musician Rob Dougan composed and recorded "Clubbed To Death 2," a song which uses the prelude for most of its musical structure.
  • It is used in the soundtrack to the motion picture, Death Wish II (1982), although the composition is credited to Jimmy Page.
  • Halfway through the 1931 film Street Scene, the prelude is faintly played in one of the apartments, as a piano–violin duet.
  • The French rap band Suprême NTM sampled it for their song called "That's My People".
  • An arrangement by Rich Vreeland is played during the normal ending of the video game Fez.
  • Benjamin Zander talks in depth about the prelude in talks convincing the public that Classical music is enjoyable by everyone.
  • Don Byron covered Prelude No. 4 on clarinet in a track named "Charley's Prelude" on his album "Bug Music."
  • This piece is played in the opening scene of the second season of The 100, when Clarke is being held in quarantine in Mount Weather

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chopin: Pianist and Teacher as Seen by His Pupils", by Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, paperback p. 281
  2. ^ List of Solange's names of the Preludes