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Sorting by: Composer -> John Burge

Everything Waits for the Lilacs

Everything Waits for the Lilacs

John Burge

Categories: Solo Sheet Music - Piano

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up)

This six-minute work was commissioned by Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska, the title of which is borrowed from Margaret Avision's poem, "Thaws". The music makes expansive use of the entire keyboard and is tinged with a distant romanticism that in part reflects a frozen landscape waiting for the arrival of spring. At times the music echoes appropriately with a strong sense of longing and desire and ends with a very loud repeated chord that just can't seem to break free of the fading grasp of winter as each repetition increasingly reverberates with more ghostly overtones. This work is included on the RCM ARCT Piano Performance Diploma Repertoire List E and has been used by many students as a required Canadian composition in national and international piano performance competitions. 11 pages.

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Everything Waits for the Lilacs - Sample Score
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O Canada - John Burge

O Canada - John Burge

John Burge

Categories: Anthem - O Canada

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up)

This arrangement of “O Canada” was first published in John Burge’s collection of solo piano pieces titled, Piano Reflections. The impetus to write down the arrangement came in 2015, when Adèle Barclay, a writer and former first-year harmony student of Burge’s, happened to mention Burge’s solo piano arrangement of “O Canada” in a Literary Review of Canada book critique. Indeed, the book that she was reviewing at the time was a biography of Calixa Lavallée, the composer of “O Canada”. As this arrangement had often changed character over the years due to its improvisational underpinnings, it seemed an ideal time to finalize the notes for the arrangement. This arrangement is not available in an individual hard copy edition and only a pdf of the arrangement can be purchased online. Please note that if a hard copy is desired, please purchase the complete Piano Reflections collection (JBComps-004).

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O Canada - Score Sample
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Parking an Octatonic Truck

Parking an Octatonic Truck

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Elementary/Early Intermediate (Gr 1-4), Intermediate/Late Intermediate (Gr 5-7)

A collection of ten pieces ranging from Grades 1-8 that explores some of the more unusual approaches to composition such as polytonality, sympathetic reverberation, less traditional meters and clusters. John Burge used many of these pieces in the past as Quick Study repertoire for music festivals and as such, are put together in a logical fashion making them easy to teach, memorize and most importantly, fun to play. The set includes, "Dancing Scales" (RCM Grade 6 Etude List) and "Cluster Blues" (RCM Grade 8 List D). 24 pages.

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Parking an Octatonic Truck - Score Sample
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No. 1 - A Gentle Waltz
No. 2 - Playing with Prisms
No. 3 - High Fives
No. 4 - Lonely
No. 5 - Building Blocks
No. 6 - Johann Phones Dmitri
No. 7 - Parking An Octatonic Truck
No. 8 - Dodge Ball
No. 9 - Dancing Scales
No. 10 - Cluster Blues
Piano Reflections

Piano Reflections

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up), Early Advanced/Advanced (Gr 8 - 9)

Piano Reflections is a collection of eight Intermediate and Advanced piano solos. In many ways this collection is a follow-up to Parking an Octatonic Truck in that both books include compositions that were written in the late 1990's for use as quick-study pieces. Initially this new set was to consist of only six pieces but while assembling and editing the music, Burge was asked to write a composition for one of his colleagues at Queen's University in honour of the university's first Nobel Prize recipient in 2015. Although completely unanticipated at the time, the resultant tribute to Dr. Arthur McDonald titled, "Oscillations," became this collection's most significant work. There is a fine video of Burge performing this diploma-level composition on Youtube. Additionally, in 2015 Adele Barclay, a writer and former first-year harmony student of Burge's, happened to mention his solo piano arrangement of "O Canada" in a Literary Review of Canada book critique. As this arrangement often changed character due to its improvisational underpinnings, finally putting the notes down on paper made his setting of "O Canada" another ideal addition. 42 Pages.

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Piano Reflections - Contents and Grade Levels
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Piano Reflections - Complete Program Notes
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No. 1 - Prelude to a Prelude
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No. 1 - Prelude to a Prelude
No. 2 - Playing Tag
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No. 2 - Playing Tag
No. 3 - Variations on a Simple Theme
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No. 3 - Variations on a Simple Theme
No. 4 - Pastels
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No. 4 - Pastels
No. 5 - One-Note Groove
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No. 5 - One-Note Groove
No. 6 - Dancing Arpeggios
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No. 6 - Dancing Arpeggios
No. 7 - O Canada
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No. 7 - O Canada
No. 8 - Oscillations
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No. 8 - Oscillations
Seven Circles

Seven Circles

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up), Early Advanced/Advanced (Gr 8 - 9)

Seven Circles is a set of seven solo piano pieces, all based in some fashion on the sequential pattern referred to as “the circle-of-fifths”. Simply put, the harmonic design or broader tonal structure of each individual piece progresses by descending perfect fifth intervals, moving through the complete chromatic set of all twelve possible pitches, until arriving back at the opening key. In some of the shorter pieces, this underlying basis is clearly displayed on the surface of the music, but in the longer pieces, the circle-of-fifth points of arrival can be somewhat hidden (perhaps as an extended pedal point or even as a distinctive key area for an expanded passage). Probably the most important aspect of Seven Circles is that each of the pieces is highly distinctive, thereby emphasizing different approaches one can use when employing this sequence. 33 pages.

 

A short video compilation of the opening of each movement with music can be found in the Sound Samples & Scores, but if you want to hear a spoken introduction about the entire set followed by a complete performance by the composer, try this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PivFcvKD9TA&t=666s

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Seven Circles Introductory Description
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No. 1 - Minor Circle in B: Sample
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No.2 - Shimmering Cirlcle in E: Sample
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No.3 - Swinging Circle in A: Sample
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No.4 - Linear Circle in D: Sample
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No.5 - Major Circle in G: Sample
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No.6 - Canonic Circle in C: Sample
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No. 7 - Grand Circle in F: Sample
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Studies in Poetry - Volume 1

Studies in Poetry - Volume 1

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up)

The Studies in Poetry series is a collection of concert etudes for the piano that pay tribute to some of the composer's favourite books of poetry in the English language. In all cases, the poetry book's title has been used as both a point of inspiration and a subtitle for each study. The composition of the first three studies dates from 2000 and coincided with the purchase of a new grand piano with the writing process serving to both break in the instrument's stiffness, and provide an incentive to practice diligently with the goal of premiering these pieces later in the year. As additional studies have been added to the collection and premiered by the composer, the new pieces have always been grouped in sets of three, although it is perfectly acceptable to perform just one or two separately. These works are definitely written in the tradition of the Liszt concert etude and have a technical difficulty at the diploma level. Even the shorts pieces in a slower tempo, often demand a level of contrapuntal control and rhythmic independence between hands that can be challenging. 22 pages.

 

More information can be read about each individual study in the publication's introductory notes found in the samples below, but in many ways, the character of the music can be found in the title. The name of the poet from whom the title is borrowed provided in brackets.

 

No. 1 – Til My Fingers Bleed (Charles Bukowski)

No. 2 – No Time (Margaret Avison)

No. 3 – Riffs (Dennis Lee)

 

Check out the glowing review of all five volumes of the Studies in Poetry series in International Piano - July/Aug 2023.

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Studies in Poetry - Volume 1: Introductory Notes
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Study in Poetry No. 1 - Til My Fingers Bleed: Sample
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Study in Poetry No. 2 - No Time: Sample
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Study in Poetry No. 3 - Riffs: Sample
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Studies in Poetry - Volume 2

Studies in Poetry - Volume 2

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up)

Continuing the Studies in Poetry series that began with Volume 1 in 2000, Volume 2 is also a set of three highly contrasting pieces that are really concert etudes. Volume 2 was completed and premiered by the composer in 2009 with each piece paying tribute to one of the composer's favourite books of poetry written in the English language. Although written as a set, each piece is designed to stand on its own. 37 pages.

 

More information can be read about each individual study in the publication's introductory notes found in the samples below. In many ways though, the character of the music can be found in the title for both the study/etude and the book of poetry. The name of the poet who wrote the book of poetry is provided in brackets.

 

No. 4 - Loop (Anne Simpson)
No. 5 - War Music (Christopher Logue)
No. 6 - Escape Velocity (David Breskin)

 

Check out the glowing review of all five volumes of the Studies in Poetry series in International Piano - July/Aug 2023.

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Studies in Poetry - Volume 2: Introductory Notes
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Study in Poetry No. 4 - Loop: Sample
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Study in Poetry No. 5 - War Music: Sample
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Study in Poetry No. 6 - Escape Velocity: Sample
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Studies in Poetry - Volume 3

Studies in Poetry - Volume 3

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up)

Continuing the Studies in Poetry series that began with Volume 1 in 2000, Volume 3 is also a set of three highly contrasting pieces that are really concert etudes. Volume 3 was completed and premiered by the composer in 2011 with each piece paying tribute to one of the composer's favourite books of poetry written in the English language. Although written as a set, each piece is designed to stand on its own. 41 pages.

 

More information can be read about each individual study in the publication's introductory notes found in the samples below. In many ways though, the character of the music can be found in the title for both the study/etude and the book of poetry. The name of the poet who wrote the book of poetry is provided in brackets.

 

No. 7 - Near Changes (Mona Van Duyn)
No. 8 - Anthem (Helen Humphreys)
No. 9 - Dancing with the Moon (Linda Frewin)

 

Check out the glowing review of all five volumes of the Studies in Poetry series in International Piano - July/Aug 2023.

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Studies in Poetry - Volume 3: Introductory Notes
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Study in Poetry No. 7 - Near Changes: Sample
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Study in Poetry No. 8 - Anthem: Sample
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Study in Poetry No. 9 - Dancing with the Moon: Sample
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Studies in Poetry - Volume 4

Studies in Poetry - Volume 4

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up)

Continuing the Studies in Poetry series that began with Volume 1 in 2000, Volume 4 is also a set of three highly contrasting pieces that are really concert etudes. Volume 4 was completed and premiered by the composer in 2022 with each piece paying tribute to one of the composer's favourite books of poetry written in the English language. Although written as a set, each piece is designed to stand on its own. 25 pages.

 

More information can be read about each individual study in the publication's introductory notes found in the samples below. In many ways though, the character of the music can be found in the title used for both the study/etude and the book of poetry. The name of the poet who wrote the book of poetry is provided in brackets.

 

No. 10 - Pulse (Rajinerpal S. Pal)
No. 11 - Why Are You So Sad (David McFadden)
No. 12 - Ballistics (Billy Collins)

 

Check out the glowing review of all five volumes of the Studies in Poetry series in International Piano - July/Aug 2023.

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Studies in Poetry - Volume 4: Introductory Notes
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Study in Poetry No. 10 - Pulse: Sample
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Study in Poetry No. 11 - Why Are You So Sad: Sample
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Study in Poetry No. 12 - Ballistics
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Studies in Poetry - Volume 5

Studies in Poetry - Volume 5

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up)

Continuing the Studies in Poetry series that began with Volume 1 in 2000, Volume 5 is also a set of three highly contrasting pieces that are really concert etudes. Volume 5 was completed in 2022 and played in public for the first time by the composer in January, 2024. As always, each study pays tribute to one of the composer's favourite books of poetry written in the English language. Although written as a set, each piece is designed to stand on its own. 46 pages.

 

It is perhaps worth pointing out that initially the composer imagined this set as consisting of just 4 volumes of 12 pieces in total. This overall design is primarily related to the centering of each piece on a different chromatic pitch that systematically moves up through the white notes by step, and then down the black keys by descending Perfect Fifths: C, D, E, F, G, A, B flat, E flat, A flat, D flat, G flat, and B. The isolation at home during COVID-19 protocols provided the composer with more than enough time and plenty of inspiration, to not only finish Volume 4, but to at least begin another anticipated set of 12 more studies by composing Volume 5 (which begins again with a pitch center of C but now moves up the white note keys by Perfect Fifths to start).

 

More information can be read about each individual study in the publication's introductory notes found in the samples below. As implied in the comments already, the character of the music finds resonance in the title used for both the study/etude and the book of poetry. The name of the poet who wrote the book of poetry is provided in brackets.

 

No. 13 - Left-Handed (Jonathan Galassi)
No. 14 - Ripple Effect (Elaine Equi)
No. 15 - Grief Sequence (Pragreeta Sharma)

 

The very insightful review published in the magazine, International Piano, of all 5 volumes completed to date, by the Scottish pianist, Murray McLachlan, is worth quoting in the way that he captures the essence of the last piece of this set: "Several are quite substantial, almost outgrowing the titled of 'study', but at 365 bars long perhaps the Bach Chaconne-influenced 'Grief Sequence' (Etude No 15, after Prageeta Sharma) dwarfs all the others. This is a quasi-symphonic work – a moving essay in concentrated power, a tone poem without orchestra rather than a conventional étude. It was written during the isolated days of the COVID lockdowns and its powerfully austere characterisation reflects the loneliness of that time."

 

Check out the glowing review of all five volumes of the Studies in Poetry series in International Piano - July/Aug 2023.

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Studies in Poetry - Volume 5: Introductory Notes
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Studies in Poetry No. 13 - Left-Handed: Sample
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Studies in Poetry No. 14 - Ripple Effect: Sample
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Studies in Poetry No. 15 - Grief Sequence: Sample
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The Mata Hari Suite

The Mata Hari Suite

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up)

The Mata Hari Suite, for solo piano, consists of six pieces that were written to provide background music during the opening run of One Last Night with Mata Hari. This one-woman show requires a male pianist with acting abilities and was created by John Burge (music) and Craig Walker (book and lyrics). Mata Hari (1876-1917) was renowned as an exotic dancer and courtesan in the early 20th century but it is her conviction and execution by France on charges of spying for Germany during World War I that accounts for much of her ongoing infamy. Her final days were spent in the Saint Lazure Prison in Paris and this show uses the prison setting to give her one last time to tell her side of the story in a kind of cabaret performance. The musical language employed in the show draws heavily upon the styles of many composers of the period including Claude Debussy, Kurt Weill and even Arthur Sullivan, but Strauss waltzes are often percolating near the surface. More specifically, the six movements of this collection were composed to provide incidental music to aurally engage the audience before each of the two acts by combining melodies taken directly from the show with original melodies coloured in the same stylistic vein. Each movement is designed to be performed separately and has the suggested difficulty level of Grade Ten repertoire. Playing two or more contrasting movements would be an ideal performance presentation. 32 pages.

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The Mata Hari Suite - Description of the Original Musical
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The Mata Hari Suite - Description of Each Movement
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No. 1 - Overture: The Tale of Mata Hari
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No. 1 - Overture: The Tale of Mata Hari
No. 2 - March
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No. 2 - March
No. 3 - Mata Embraces the New Day
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No. 3 - Mata Embraces the New Day
No. 4 - The Incognito Rag
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No. 4 - The Incognito Rag
No. 5 - Avec Amour
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No. 5 - Avec Amour
No. 6 - The Abandoned Waltz
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No. 6 - The Abandoned Waltz
Twenty-Four Preludes

Twenty-Four Preludes

John Burge

Categories: Piano Collections/Books

Levels: Advanced/Diploma (Grade 10, ARCT and up), Early Advanced/Advanced (Gr 8 - 9)

This work also includes a number of diploma level compositions highly suitable for competition or examination use given their compact size and relatively short duration. The set reveals Burge's close affinity to the music of Chopin. Equally though, the Preludes of Debussy, with their expressive textural sonorities and colour, can also be considered touchstones, especially in the way that Burge provides subtitles for fourteen of his Preludes. Composed over the years 2011-2015, Burge personally premiered a few at a time so that the music had a long period of gestation, finally premiering the entire set in 2015 (a complete performance takes about one hour). The most unusual aspect of these Preludes is that eight of them use extended instrumental techniques such as strumming strings inside the piano. These techniques are very simple to execute and do not require any advance preparation of the piano but in most cases can only be realized successfully on a grand piano with the music stand removed. As a guiding principle, Burge tried to embrace each Prelude's tonic key in an audibly recognizable fashion so that at times the music is emphatically tonal, even in the Preludes that involve non-traditional performance practices.

 

While some of the Preludes have a difficulty level appropriate to Grades 8 and 9 repertoire ("Prelude No. 5" was published previously in Northern Lights Volume 8B), the majority of the Preludes are at a Grade 10 or Diploma level of difficulty and as such, have much potential for piano competition and examination use. The 2022 Royal Conservatory of Music 2022 Piano Celebration Series published Prelude No. 9 in C sharp minor in the Level 9 Etude Book and Prelude No. 1 in C major in the Level 10 Etude Book. Prelude No. 16 in B flat minor (subtitled, "The Hummingbird"), appears in the RCM 2022 Piano Syllabus as an ARCT Examination piece in List E. The music is beautifully printed with a coil binding hidden by a fold-over cover for lasting protection and durability. 80 pages.

 

The Scottish pianist, Murray McLachlan, reviewed these Preludes in the magazine: International Piano - Jan/Feb 2018

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24 Preludes-Assigned Levels of Difficulty and Detailed Description
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Prelude No. 1 (C Major)
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Prelude No. 2 (A Minor) and No. 3 (G Major)
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Prelude No. 4 (E Minor)
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Prelude No. 5 (D Major)
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Prelude No. 6 (B Minor)
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Prelude No. 7 (A Major)
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Prelude No. 8 (F Sharp Minor)
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Prelude No. 9 (E Major)
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Prelude No. 10 (C Sharp Minor)
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Prelude No. 11 (B Major) and No. 12 (G Sharp Minor)
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Prelude No. 13 (F Sharp Major) and No. 14 (E Flat Minor)
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Prelude No. 15 (D Flat Major)
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Prelude NO. 16 (B Flat Minor)
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Prelude No. 17 (A Flat Major)
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Prelude No. 18 (F Minor)
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Prelude No. 19 (E Flat Major)
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Prelude No. 20 (C MInor), No. 21 (B Flat Major) and No. 22 (G MInor)
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Prelude No. 23 (F Major)
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Prelude No. 24 (D Minor)
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