Engage the imagination and let them fly with it.
No story any student comes up with could match the outrageousness of the interpretations of the Romantics. In what is called one of the greatest pieces of nineteenth-century fiction, conductor / pianist Hans von Bülow has given us a “program” of each of Chopin’s Preludes.
Below is the Prelude no. 9 in E major, performed by Martha Argerich. I’ve added the timings into the text.
“Here Chopin has the conviction that he has lost his power of expression.With the determination to discover whether his brain can still originate ideas, he strikes his head with a hammer (here the 16ths and 32nds are to be carried out in exact time, indicating a double stroke of the hammer / 0o:17).
In the third and fourth measures one can hear the blood trickle (trills in the left hand / 00:19-00:29).
He is desperate at finding no inspiration (fifth measure / 00:30); he strikes again with the hammer and with greater force (thirty-second notes twice in succession during the crescendo / 00:42-00:46).
In the key of A flat major (00:50) he finds his powers again. Appeased, he seeks his former key and closes contentedly.”
Information and quotes from The Great Pianists (from Mozart to Present) by Harold Schonberg. See Reading List for more references to this book.
Image: via melody-blue