Chopin – Prelude No.15 in Db major, Op.28
Transcript Chopin – Prelude No.15 in Db major, Op.28
Today we will be analysing this set work so that you can
answer questions from both section A and B of the exam
paper if they refer to this set work. You will also be doing
some drawing, and not of animals....
The Romantic Era (c.1830 –
1800’s = Age of Romanticism
Music influenced by other art forms
Expression of intense, but ordinary, human emotion
i.e. Love, anger, grief, death, joy and the beauty of
Writers of the time = Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth
Artists = Turner
Composers = Dvorak, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky
Features of the Romantic Style
Emphasis on expressing a wide range of feelings and emotions
Longer and more developed melody lines
Freedom in use of form and structure
Extended vocabulary of chords i.e. Dominant 13th
Chromatic and discordant harmony to portray grief and anguish
Strong and varied dynamics (pppp – ffff)
Link to other arts through programme music
Increased technical demand on performer and the rise of the virtuosic
Rise of Nationalism
Significant expansion of the orchestra
Development of the piano.
The virtuoso performer
Idea of struggle in the music led to the development of the
‘heroic’ soloist performer.
Composers such as Brahms, Liszt and Chopin enjoyed
writing music for themselves to perform.
This piece is of moderate playing standard, and not
virtuosic like other works by Chopin.
It has a comparatively limited range and the rhythms are
quite straight forward.
Key techniques used include cantabile legato playing,
careful expressive use of the pedals and use of rubato
The development of the piano
Improved to give more power over a greater dynamic spectrum
Became a supreme solo instrument
Improvements were made by;
Was reshaped and enlarged to create a bigger sound
Number of notes increased to 7 octaves, increasing both bass and
Felt replaced leather on the hammers, producing a fuller, more
Strings were longer, stronger. Increased tension meant the frame was
now made of metal, not wood.
Sustain and dampening pedals were developed.
Chopin’s pianistic style
Perfect example of the Romantic ideal being expressing the poetic
feelings and emotions through sound.
Chopin = Lonely, aloof, withdrawn. Talented but tragic, dying at 39yrs.
Founder of the 19thC school of cantabile, or in the singing style – an
emphasis on melodic lines.
His compositional style;
Long lyrical melodies with graceful ornamentation
Simple, broken chords with subtle pedalling
Passages of rapid articulation and virtuosic display
Range of touch, tone quality and dynamics
Background to the Preludes
Part of the group of works ‘The Preludes’, written
between 1835-38 and published in 1839.
Initially criticised for their lack of recognisable
structure and brevity – The shortest being 13bars,
longest is 90bars.
Composed while Chopin was studying The WellTempered Clavier – A collection of preludes and
fugues in each key.
Chopin’s preludes are arranged in the circle of 5ths.
Background to the Preludes
A Prelude = A brief opening piece to set a mood, linking to a fugue in
the same key.
Chopin’s preludes stand alone (no fugue following them)
Each depicts a specific idea or emotion.
Although all preludes, nocturnes and etude had titles in early editions,
these were not given by the composers.
Written during his period of recuperation at the deserted monastery in
Written during a storm and depict the raindrops from the roof of the
monastery. (Ab’s in section A, G#’s in section B).
These pedal notes pervade the work but do not detract from the beauty
of the melody line.
The form and structure
Loosely ternary form
Even though over half of the piece is section B, which
is dark and stormy in mood, the piece is remembered
for it’s beautiful elegiac melody of section A.
A (Bars 1-27)
B (Bars 28-75)
C# Minor (Tonic Minor)
A (Bars 75-81)
Codetta (Bars 81-89)
Section A: Bars 1-4
Main motif = ‘Falling’ motif. A Sighing figure, commonly
used in music since Renaissance times to represent
sadness, melancholy and grief.
Fills in the phrase with stepwise movement upwards to
Gb and then back down again to Db.
Inner parts provide harmonic support, doubling in 6th at
bars 2-4. Harmony is diatonic using mainly chords I and
Bar 4b = Ic-V7-I followed by septuplet figure made up of
an acciaccatura figure followed by a turn.
Bars 5-8 = Repeat of Bars 1-4
Bar 8 (Beat 1 -12) = New, second part of the theme is
Variation every 4 bars. Simple stepwise melody.
Odd chromatic note seen (i.e. Cb in bars 9 and 11) used
to add colour to the harmony. G in bar is more
impotant, hinting at Ab Major (Dominant key)
Bar11-12 = V-I cadence
Notice the turns in bars 11 and 15.
2, 4-bar phrases
Chorale-like crotchet melody in the left hand
Octave G#’s in the right hand (similar to the Ab’s permeating the left hand of
Repetition of bars 28-31 except the right hand has inner crotchet movement,
doubling the left hand in octaves
This produces a thicker texture and reinforces the melody as we crescendo to ff
at bar 40.
Sombre mood is broken by dramatic E major chord
In G# minor for 4 bars (relation to C# minor and Ab from section A?!)
Created by using the ambiguous chord in Bar 39 (with no 3rd – Like a power chord)
as a G# minor chord.
V-I cadence in G# minor in bars 42-43.
Strong and powerful section of music achieved through octaves, use of minims and
accents on each note.
The texture is the reduced to single p quaver G#s ready for a repeat of the whole
section so far.
Bars 44 - 59
This is a repeat of bars 28 – 43.
The only differences are slight dynamic changes and
the repeated G#s are an octave higher.
Back in C# minor.
Melody moves to the top of the texture
Chorale-like and step wise movement.
Melody is similar to the first part of section B i.e. Bars 30-31, but this time
Repeated G# quavers are in the centre of the texture
Static harmony chords of V and I in C#min, forming a series of perfect
Repeated quaver and minim G#’s form a pedal effect.
G# is the dominant, therefore it is a dominant pedal. As the G#’s are on the
top of the texture, it is an inverted dominant pedal.
If the G#’s were on the bottom, it would just be a pedal, if it was in the middle
of the texture, it would be an inner pedal.
A repeat of bars 60-62
And that is all.
Golden Doodles are most awesome.
A forte passage. F# minor (bar 71) and then back to C# minor (bar 72)
Added A# are chromatic notes in C# minor, making it an added sixth
As we hover on G#, there is a feeling of anticipation as we prepare to
modulate back to the home key of Db major, returning to the A
This is a link bar, back to the opening A section
G# - E# - F# -D# can be read as Ab – F – Gb – Eb.
Section A reprise
A 4-bar reprise of the opening 4 bars
The ornament figure is extended to a 10 note figure
(Dectuplet, rather than a septuplet!)
Smorzando (bar 79) = Dying away.
A ‘broken off’ repeat of the opening figure. Meant to be
dream-like fading away into a mini cadenza in bars 81-83.
Slentando = gradually slower.
Bars 81, beat 4 - 83
The forte top Bb (highest note in the piece) grabs the
This 2-bar phrase descends in dynamic and pitch
leading to the final 6-bars of the piece.
6-bar phrase based on the tonic and dominant in Db major
Ab’s heard in the middle of the texture (left hand)
Melodic line is in the middle of the texture (right hand), resembling the minor
melody heard in bars 60-62.
Piece ends pp with a V-I cadence in bars 87-88.
A ritenuto bar of tonic harmony leads to the final chord in bar 89.
Define the following...
Now, answer the questions on Page
45 of the text book. Work Hard,
Chopin is always watching you.....
Essay-style Question for Section B
1: In what year was this piece composed? (1 mark)
2: Where did Chopin compose the piece? (1 mark)
3: Under the following headings discuss the main
features of the piece
I am watching
Italian score markings
the 3 types of
pedal using the
analogy of a