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Rachmaninoff Prelude Op. 3 No. 2 in C# Minor sheet music, Noten, partition

Rachmaninoff Prelude Op. 3 No. 2 in C# Minor sheet music, Noten, partition

Rachmaninoff Prelude in C Sharp Minor Story

Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C sharp minor Op. 3, No. 2 is easily one of his most famous pieces, and it has been since he first performed it publicly in Moscow in September 1892 at the Moscow Electrical Exhibition.

You may also hear it called “The Bells of Moscow.” It’s a less common name for the piece, but it gets its name from the very first three notes heard in the opening: a loud, deep, resonant A, G sharp, C sharp motif. 

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Piece Structure

The prelude in C sharp minor was originally one of a five-piece set called Morceaux de fantaisie. Now you’ll find it most often compiled with his other preludes. He actually performed this in his first public concert as a “Free Artist” after graduation from the Moscow Conservatory.

The piece is a clear-cut ABA form, where the A consists of a thick, chordal texture that sounds like bells with a hauntingly beautiful melody atop and the B section that creates a sense of an anxiety attack from the composer. No, maybe he wasn’t conveying an anxiety attack, but the story goes that the inspiration behind the prelude was from a dream he had. The dream was set at a funeral (the A section “bells”), and there “center stage” was a coffin.

As Rachmaninoff approaches to look inside the coffin, he sees himself there inside, where he immediately feels terror and anxiety (the B section “agitato”). Whether or not the story about the dream is true, it is true that he experienced loss of family members at a young age. In fact, he was just ten years old, when his sister died. 

What Level Is Prelude In C Sharp Minor Op. 3, No. 2?

Mainly for the thick textures and rapid notes, this piece is around level 8, meaning it’s an early advanced/advanced piece of music. It’s a great study in voicing.

The chords in the A section are so thick that the trick is to balance the bass and inner notes against a strong, controlled melody, and the rapid triplets of the B section must remain under the melody.