24 Prelude and Fugues

Howard Skempton

    Research output: Other contribution


    The form and scale of the work was decided at the outset. A gap in my composing schedule allowed just enough time to complete the cycle, though requiring the setting of tight limits. Each Prelude and Fugue would be confined to an A4 page. The Preludes would be relatively quick and strictly canonic; and accommodated on a single stave, though changes of clef would allow for freedom of movement within a four-octave range. The Fugues would be slower. Each Fugue would take its theme from the preceding Prelude, but in a form that allowed for rapid modulation to a point within striking distance of the ?tonality? of the succeeding Prelude. The aim was to effect a seamless progression through the keys, the modally chromatic language taking the music from C major to C sharp minor; and then to D major and E flat minor; and so on. The design for the last twelve Preludes and Fugues would be the reverse of that for the first twelve: C minor to C sharp major; to D minor; and so on. In practice, these guidelines proved to be playful rather than restrictive. They were introduced to facilitate the process and to secure the delight of both composer and pianist in something like an unfolding narrative. A new Prelude and Fugue was delivered each week, though with increasing urgency as the date of the first performance (27th May 2019, in Hay-on-Wye) approached. Delivering the pieces one by one or, latterly, two at a time, made possible an extended period of familiarisation and consolidation. If the earlier pieces seemed to benefit most from this, seeming, in due course, like old friends, the later ones could be approached with sufficient understanding of the lie of the land.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 15 Oct 2020


    Dive into the research topics of '24 Prelude and Fugues'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this