Prelude, Op. 28, No. 20 (Chopin)

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Prelude No. 20 in C minor. This prelude, modified slightly, was used as the theme for variations in both Sergei Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Chopin and in Ferruccio Busoni's Variations on a Theme of Chopin.
Prelude Op. 28 - No. 20 by Ivan Ilic

The Prelude Op. 28, No. 20, in C minor by Frédéric Chopin has been dubbed the "Funeral March" by Hans von Bülow but is commonly known as the "Chord Prelude" due to its slow progression of quarter note chords.[1]

The prelude was originally written in two sections of four measures, ending at measure nine. Chopin later added a repeat of the last four measures at a softer level, with an expressive swell before the final cadence.[1]

Cultural legacy[edit]

There are a number of references to this prelude in contemporary culture, and these are just a few examples.

  • Ferruccio Busoni composed a set of variations (Variationen und Fuge in freier Form über Fr. Chopin's C-moll Präludium) on the Prelude No. 20.
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff used the Prelude No. 20 as his inspiration for "Variations on a Theme of Chopin," a set of 22 variations in a wide range of keys, tempos and lengths
  • Jean-Luc Ponty, Jazz fusion artist, included a version with violin improvisation on his album Storytelling
  • "Could It Be Magic" by Barry Manilow is based on Prelude No. 20 and reached #6 on the US charts in 1975. The song was later covered by Donna Summer and Take That. The song was also covered by French singer Alain Chamfort in 1975 under the title « Le Temps qui court ».
  • The intro and outro to The Moody Blues' early single "Love and Beauty", composed and sung by original member Mike Pinder, features this piano passage.
  • The 1988 film Madame Sousatzka features Shirley MacLaine teaching the Prelude No. 20 to a gifted piano student.
  • The metal band, Angra, recorded a variation of Chopin's Prelude No. 20 for their Rebirth album in 2001 entitled Visions Prelude.
  • The music for the Commodore 64 version of the videogame Ghosts'n Goblins by Mark Cooksey is based on the Prelude No. 20.
  • The funeral doom metal band Pantheist used part of Prelude No. 20 in "Envy Us," from their album O Solitude.
  • Ken Skinner recorded a version of the Prelude No. 20 as a jazz trio piece for the CD "Maroon" in 1996 under the title of "Farewell Europa".
  • Jazz trumpeter Chris Botti's 2012 CD "Impressions" includes a version of the Prelude No. 20 as the album's first track.
  • The Piano Guys includes variations of parts of the Prelude No. 20 in "Kung Fu Piano: Cello Ascends", where not only the variations are used in the finale, but they are also used in many parts of the piece as a harmonic element.[2]
  • Bill Evans Trio, with Symphony Orchestra, played this prelude in 1965, with an arrangement penned by Claus Ogerman (a Verve record); for this album, the prelude was then retitled "Blue Interlude".

See also[edit]


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