Preludes Original Cast – The Prelude Lyrics

(Prelude in C# minor, op. 3, no. 2 begins. RACH goes to stop RACHMANINOFF.)

[DAHL]
No, let it play

(They listen a bit.)

Tell me about this piece

[RACH]
I wrote it when I was 19
I—I have no idea how I did it
I was in a practice room
At school
And I was just playing around in C# minor
C# minor is kind of the coolest key
It just feels really…dark and silken under the fingers
Like midnight
But a really sophisticated midnight
Sleek
And super ancient
Like, sci-fi ancient
And sneaky
And sensual
And rich

Anyway, the chords just came, I mean they’re pretty obvious
Just C# up to E and back down…
Then A to G# and back down
And, I just wanted it to be loud
Just f**king loud and epic
I wanted to write something that would shake the halls
And upset my teachers
There’s so much restraint
So much that is precious—
I just wanted to really, play the piano, you know?

And then
It got published
And it was a hit
And people, loved it
And they loved me
And for a while, it was amazing
I was 19
And people were stopping me in the street
And asking me to sign things
And fawning over me
And, and, I mean people would be inarticulate around me
When they found out I wrote the Prelude
“The Prelude!, Oh, oh wow!”
And I would play it everywhere I went
At concerts, at bars, at people’s houses
And they would gush
And they would freak out
And they would ask me to play it again
And again
And again
And it got to be
That now whenever I go to a party
And see a piano in the room
I tense up
Just waiting for it—

And then, and then sometimes instead they ask me to listen
To listen to them play it
And, and I’ll walk down the street
In a town I’ve never been to
And hear it coming from apartment windows
And it’s, it’s four sharps, which is a lot for some people
So, there’d be, so many wrong notes
And, and I know they’re trying
But, ah, the wrong notes are just—
And once I was on tour
And they put me in this f**king great apartment
And this guy next door
Was practicing it
All day long
And I’d pound on the wall
And yell “Stop! Stop! Stop!”
And I’m sure he thought I was some asshole
Who doesn’t like music
Oh and then it got published in the States
Which I still don’t see any money from
Because the international copyright laws are so f**ked up
So now even when I go there they’re playing it
And ask me to play it
And I just
I just—

I wrote it when I was 19
And I’ve written a lot of other things since
And, it’s just, what if
What if
That was the one
What if that was the one, best thing I’ll ever do
And I spend the rest of my life
Just getting worse
And worse
And drying up
Uninspired
And I never become great
Never, fulfill—

All because one afternoon
In a freezing little practice room
That I don’t even—
I don’t even know how that happened

[DAHL]
But most people don’t even do that
Other people don’t ever make anything like that

[RACH]
Other people
Invent X-rays
And Tesla coils!
And figure out f**king relativity—
Or they cure polio
Or they figure out how to stop the ozone
Or—
And other people
Take out the garbage
They get up at 4am
So our streets don’t stink
And people help people
And people give money
And time
And they work in soup kitchens
Or hospice
Or triage
They do so much more—
They—

[TOLSTOY]
Come in, come in young man

[RACH]
I—I’m sorry, I have to go