Twenty-Four Preludes for Solo Piano

John Burge
John Burge
Date de composition : 2015
Durée: 00:55:00
Genre: Keyboard, Piano, One Keyboard, Two Hands


Instrumentation no. 1:
  • 1 x Piano
Notes de programme :
Given the number of precedents in the world of Classical music, it is fair to state that there is a long traditional of composing a set of Twenty-Four Preludes for solo piano. John Burge’s preludes draw their primary influence from Chopin’s Opus 28 set in that Burge also composes one prelude in each major and minor key, employing the exact same ordering of keys used by Chopin. Beginning with the first two preludes in C major and A minor (the major and minor keys sharing the same key signature) the pattern of keys repeats by ascending Perfect Fifths (Numbers 3 and 4 are in G major and E minor) until reaching the final pair of preludes in F major and D minor. While Chopin was writing music in the highly chromaticized harmonic language of the early 19th century, in 2015, the year that Burge completed his set, the concept of tonality has undergone so many developments since Chopin’s time that there are now whole schools of musical techniques that produce music that is quite atonal. As an all-governing principle for his set of preludes though, Burge made it a personal requirement that each prelude had to embrace its tonic key in a decisively audible fashion. It will be apparent to anyone playing or listening to Burge’s preludes that the ones in minor keys are often the most vividly dramatic. Indeed, numbers 6, 12, 18 and 24 are sufficiently expansive that they generate a strong sense of ending which structurally groups the entire work into four blocks of six prelude subsets. It will also be obvious that the higher numbered preludes are generally more technically difficult and longer. The other way that the preludes can be divided is discernable in the arrangement of the eight preludes that use non-traditional piano performance techniques. Numbers 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20 and 23 involve such things as creating bell-like harmonics, strumming strings inside the piano, knocking on the wooden frame and plucking strings. Although the means by which sound is activated in these specific preludes might be somewhat novel, harmonically these preludes are often the most emphatically tonal music of the entire work. This composition is dedicated to Canadian pianist, Mathew Walton. John Burge had the pleasure of adjudicating Mathew in piano performance competitions in Ontario early in his career and Mathew eventually tracked down some of John Burge’s music while studying at the University of Ottawa and then the University of Alberta. A fabulous pianist, Mathew not only performed John Burge’s Prelude Variations, for piano and orchestra, with the University of Alberta Symphony Orchestra (a work based on Chopin’s Prelude in C minor, Op. 28, No. 20), but he also made a comprehensive study of the first nine installments of Burge’s Studies for Poetry series. Around this time, Mathew also gave John Burge a translation of Czeslaw Milosz’s book of poetry entitled, Bells in Winter. Although John had already finished composing Prelude No. 2 in A minor when he received this poetry collection, he found that this title seemed so appropriate for the second prelude’s bell-like harmonics that he immediately subtitled the second prelude, “Bells in Winter.” Eventually subtitles were added to fourteen of the preludes, in part to help the listener stay more engaged while trying to follow a performance of the complete set.

Renseignements sur la création :
9 Jan 2015, The Isabel Performing Arts Centre, Kingston, Ontario
John Burge; piano


  • Cote:
  • MI 2110 B954tw
  • Genre:
  • Keyboard, Piano, One Keyboard, Two Hands
  • Date d'acquisition :
  • December 4, 2015
  • Type:
  • Partition, éditée
  • Description physique :
  • 1 score (85 p.)
    85 pages
    Hauteur: 30 cm
    Largeur: 24 cm
  • Renseignements supplémentaires :

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    Édité par Red Leaf Pianoworks
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Preludes Twenty-Four Preludes for Solo Piano
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