Prelude in C-sharp minor - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Prelude in C-sharp minor is a solo piano piece written by the legendary Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is one of the most popular pieces from his Op. 3 set and has been featured in numerous movies, soundtracks and as part of concerts.

History and Release of Prelude in C-sharp minor

The Prelude in C-sharp minor was composed in 1891 while the composer was still a student at the Moscow Conservatory. Rachmaninoff premiered the piece at the 1892 Moscow Grand Concert, and it was well-received. The piece was published as part of his Op. 3 set in 1901, and it quickly became a favorite of pianists and music lovers.

Many famous pianists have performed the piece in concerts, including Vladimir Horowitz and Sviatoslav Richter. It has also become a staple at music competitions and recitals. There have been countless recordings made of the piece, and it has been featured in movie soundtracks, including the iconic horror movie “The Exorcist”.

Simplified Analysis of the Composition from the Point of View of Music Theory

The Prelude in C-sharp minor is a relatively short piece with a length of four minutes or so. From the point of view of music theory, the composition is tonal and is organized into three distinct sections. The first - or exposition - section is written in ternary form, which is a form consisting of three sections: an opening section, a contrasting middle section and a closing section.

The second section - or development - section begins with a slow, declamatory melody in the bass. This is followed by an ascending chromatic scale, and finally a beautiful “reminiscence” section reminiscent of the first section. The third section - or the recapitulation - begins with a repeat of the original theme, and the piece concludes with a brief coda which ties up the loose ends.

Why Piece Is So Popular

Prelude in C-sharp minor has become one of the most beloved pieces of solo piano music due to its powerful and haunting melody, which evokes emotion in both performer and listener alike. The piece also features musically interesting and sophisticated techniques, such as chromaticism and classical forms. This makes it the perfect piece both for audience enjoyment and a challenge for advanced pianists.

The iconic nature of the piece has made it popular in media, both in soundtracks and television shows. Its powerful atmosphere and captivating melody have made it a timeless piece of piano music for over a century.


Prelude in C-sharp minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff is one of the most celebrated pieces of solo piano music of all time. Its timeless melody and sophisticated musical techniques have made it popular for over a century, and it often appears in soundtracks and commercial media. Its emotionally powerful atmosphere and musical intricacy make it perfect for both enjoying the piece and mastering it as a pianist.

Publication date: 22. 02. 2023