Music Quenched In Blood: What Poets Hear In Chopin's Raindrop Prelude

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Music by the so-called "poet of the piano," Frédéric Chopin, has provided irresistible raw material for many poets of the literary kind. Drawn by both the evocative music and the composer's compelling biography, well over one hundred poets writing in English have responded with an abundance of sonnets, quatrains, blank verse, and free verse, and at least a dozen of these poems focus on Prelude in D-flat major, Op. 28, No. 15, the "Raindrop" Prelude. The prominence of the "Raindrop" Prelude in poetry can be attributed in part to its popularity in the concert hall and on recordings, but it is clear that poets have also been attracted by the pictorial element suggested by the Prelude's nickname. In addition, the poems prove the fascination of the music's biographical context: the Prelude may have been composed during Chopin's stay on the Spanish island of Majorca with novelist Aurore Dudevant, better known as George Sand. The varied images, narratives, and techniques in these poems attest to the very personal nature of the listening experience, and a careful reading of this poetry offers fresh perspectives on the "Raindrop" Prelude's genesis, meanings, and reception history.

Original Citation

Kreiling, J. L. (2011). Music Quenched In Blood: What Poets Hear In Chopin's Raindrop Prelude. Ars Lyrica: Journal of the Lyrica Society For Word-Music Relations, 20, 63-80.