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(prā`lo͞od), musical composition of no universal style, usually for the keyboard. It was originally used to precede a ceremony and later a second, often larger piece. Early preludes represent the first example of idiomatic keyboard music. During the baroque period the prelude formed the first movement of suites and fugues. The most widely known preludes, those written for the piano by Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy and Aleksandr Scriabin, are independent works with no introductory function.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an instrumental musical piece, usually a solo. Originally a prelude was a short introduction to any piece and was played by a lute, a stringed-keyboard instrument, or an organ. Especially in its early form, it is characterized by an improvisational style, free development, figurate treatment of the material, and the application from beginning to end of a single manner of execution, which makes it close to the genre of the étude. Preludes have often been designated by other names, including a praeambula, intrada, recercari, and fantasia.

In the 18th century composers wrote preludes as independent pieces, chiefly for stringed-keyboard instruments. At the same time, above all in the work of J. S. Bach, the prelude was combined with the fugue, becoming a standard short cyclic form. Bach also established the large cyclic form that combines preludes and fugues and embraces all the major and minor keys, for example, the first and second volumes of the Well-Tempered Clavier. Similar forms were created later, for example, Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues for piano. In addition, a cyclic form consisting only of preludes, also in all keys, was developed by such composers as F. Chopin, A. N. Scriabin, C. Debussy, and D. B. Kabalevskii.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a. a piece of music that precedes a fugue, or forms the first movement of a suite, or an introduction to an act in an opera, etc.
b. (esp for piano) a self-contained piece of music
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The first half brought Kreisler's magnificent Praeludium and Allegro, electric with changes of colour and dynamics.
His programme will include Sinfonia to Cantata 'Wir danken dir, Gott' BWV29 (J S Bach/Dupr ), Praeludium in D minor BuxWV140 (Buxtehude ), Feux Follets and Toccata (Pices de Fantasie Bk 2 op 53) by Vierne, Tanz-Toccata (Heiller), Nimrod, Enigma Variations (Elgar), Prelude and Fugue in B op 7 no 1 (Dupr ) and The Flight of the Bumblebee (Tsar Saltane) by Rimsky-Korsakov/Scott.
Three pieces from Grigny's Livre d'Orgue and a couple by Buxtehude, including the dazzling G minor Praeludium (BuxWV 149), certainly made all the right noises, although the fullyopen acoustic doors occasionally hampered absolute clarity of detail.
Stock Bach-Stoessel Praeludium in E Major 4/14/1935 Bach-Wilhelmj Air for the G String 4/14/1935 Barber, Samuel Overture to The School for Scandal 12/17/1941 Barber, Samuel "Sure, On This Shining Night" 11/13/1944 Barber, Samuel "I Hear An Army" 11/13/1944 Beach, Amy "Gaelic" Symphony in E Minor, op.
His concert programme will include Trumpet Tune by Carter; Praeludium in E Minor by Bruhns Bach's Trio Sonata 5, Franck's Chorale in A minor, Adagio in E by Bridge and Widor's Allegro from Symphonie 6.
A Bachian subtext ran through a more disparate second half, where highlights included a sumptuously rhetorical Liszt Prelude and Fugue on BACH and a charming, effective little Praeludium by the still under-rated Max Reger.
The multiple stops facilitated by scordatura give rise at times to wonderfully rich sonorities, as in the Praeludium to Partia no.3.
Then organist John S Bailey will play Bach's Praeludium in G Major, BWV 568 and Chorale Prelude Erbarm' dich mein, O Herre Gott, BWV 721.
3.30pm Evensong, Murrill in E, Thou O God art praised in Zion - Boyle, Voluntary: Praeludium and fugue on Bach - Franz Liszt
What is implied here is no minor detail, for the unusual and sensuous character of the F minor Praeludium could lead to one of several interpretations of its little |cadenza': it is smooth or it is cut up; either way it is plaintive.
Other pieces to be included in the programme are: Praeludium in C (BUhm ), TiArce en taille (De Grigny), Bergamasca (Frescobaldi) , Fugue on Bach No5 (Schumann) and Fantasia and Fugue on Bach (Liszt).
In the "Praeludium" to the text, Richard Wernick indicates that the Presser editorial board strove for maintenance of Shapey's persona--so as not to dilute or obscure his message--in recognition of its coextensive role with the music itself (p.