Many ask the question, what is prelude. For the first time having heard the word “prelude”, especially at children's age, they understand it as “in public”. And they often try to write through “and”.

Prelude is a small piece of music that does not have a strict formIn fact, it is a word of Latin origin, which is now included in many European languages, has a very different meaning. It translates literally as “before the game”. The meaning of the word foreplay over the years has changed. A word from the field of music. Prelude is a small improvisational piece with a Fugue.

Prelude like improvisation in front of the Fugue

Improvisation has long been considered the norm in the performance of music. And this applies not only to organ music, but and music for lute and harpsichord. However, in the middle of the XVIII century, the time of preludezone came to an end. The era when music started to sound not only in the cathedrals and intimate living rooms. She moved to the huge halls with the secular crowd life. Here the performer of a musical work is the orchestra.

Sunset foreplay with classicism

To preludepower could one person – the composer. How to preludepower in terms of the band? Nothing but cacophony, this idea is not promising. Therefore, the most complex polyphonic ring tones sounded in the churches, was replaced by a much more simple and easy to understand musical form. The need to prepare and configure listeners to a work of music anymore. New kinds of works – overtures, concertos, symphonies began so catchy that the listener's attention focused on the melody from the first minute. The prelude music has lost relevance, as the Fugue.

Chopin's Revolution

This lasted until the beginning of the XIX century. Then it was thought that the genre of the prelude is already gone from the music life. This time, however, it turned out that classical style, almost abolished the complex polyphony and the concomitant preludezone, exhausted. Started a new time – the age of romanticism with its Baroque style.

The "second birth" of the genre has survived thanks to the young frédéric Chopin. When Chopin the understanding of what the prelude has changed. It was he who in his work was able to reveal the inexhaustible expressive possibilities of the piano miniature.

Chopin thirsted for natural feelings and romantically, soulfully perceived the nature and the landscape. Apparently he remembered how good the old masters were able to convey all the shades of sentiment in his preludes. They could be as gentle and contemplative, and violent and stormy. In the future this is clearly manifested in the works of Chopin.

However, after such a long time, the genre could not remain as he was. Several generations, different speech, manners and habits. That said, the Cathedral organist of his congregation, it is not suited for salon piano music performed by pianist among friends or in a concert hall. If Bach prelude is had and there was usually next to a Fugue, Chopin made her independent a full-fledged work. And since then the meaning of the name of the genre does not meet the originally underlying meaning. With a light hand of Chopin's understanding of genre was not that early. Now the prelude is a musical piece of small size, which serves as a musical illustration of a single mood.

Chopin's music is characterized by the richness of the experiences, unexpected shades of emotion and integrity of the images captured in them. All of Chopin's preludes are so perfect that you are still a role model.

Because these pieces of music are so small, musicians often loop them together. They are created for violin, piano, ensembles, orchestra.


In the 20th century, the great connoisseur of polyphony D. D. Shostakovich returned to the Bach traditions, creating a cycle consisting of 24 musical plays.

A few years later the genre of the prelude was enriched by such Russian composers as Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Lyadov. In their versions of this music sparkle with new colors. So, preludes Rachmaninoff evoke visual associations and patterns. Scriabin striking with finesse and dreamy, sometimes alternating daring impetuosity. Now, this piece of music for a long time does not change. A prelude is a musical work of small size, which does not have a strict form.

Other values

It should be noted that for some time this word has been used allegorically. Now it is often said that prelude is an event that preceded any more important action.