Rachmaninoff’s first Prelude is the second piece of a set of five pieces entitled Morceaux de fantaisie, Op. 3, which isn’t an actual fantasy. Its title reflects “imagery” rather than musical form.
What comes to your mind when you hear it?
I’m not sure exactly what I imagine, but I find it stirring. Indeed it “portrays” the inherent power of intense feeling.
The sentiment is mixed with a “dose of hope” that we might be at one again, but in a better place and time…which is yet to come.
Isn’t it marvelous that we’re able to hear such a wonderful old piece actually performed by its original composer? Rachmaninoff first performed it in 1892 and premiered it in 1903. I hear a blend of nostalgia and melancholy. The fact that he composed it 25 years before the downfall of the Tsarist government reveals he may have begun to sense the earliest winds of change.
…in the state of public and private morals as well as the constitutions and laws of nations, there is a general disregard and forgetfulness of the supernatural, a gradual falling away from the strict standard of Christian virtue, and that men are slipping back into the shameful practices of paganism.
Humani generis redemptionem
Rachmaninoff, however, stuck to the style of the old romantic music, even after its greatest influence had waned.
You can hear how his first Prelude fades out in a soft and beautiful exit. “My goodbye is unofficial,” it seems to say. “I might be back someday to finish it.”
It’s also old media lingo for being first to learn and disseminate the news, reminiscent of being quick on the draw back in the days of the Old West.
Three Cheyenne men wearing ceremonial clothing and holding rifles, greeting a Euro-American man in a suit and his interpreter in front of a building.
Do you know where the “mystery sketch” comes from? It’s from an illustrated book by an author even older than Rachmaninoff. In fact, the book’s author passed away the same year that Rachmaninoff first performed this piece.
Even some old objects have been reported by some people to be haunted. This one isn’t.