In 1987, on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Arthur Rubinsten (1887-1982), the Isaac Albéniz Foundation commissioned twenty-one Spanish composers to compose a piano piece that, in homage to the great Polish artist, must in all cases bear the subtitle "A page for Rubinstein".
Press release on the Tribute to Rubinstein by the Isaac Albéniz Foundation (Joaquín Turina Gómez. Época magazine, May 1987)
These Five Preludes to a Theme by Chopin, composed in Madrid in January 1987, were born as a consequence of this commission, and given that for me the figure of Rubinstein was inextricably associated with that of Chopin since, in a period of great importance in my musical training, I got his LP with the Four Ballads, recorded in 1968 for the RCA Victor label.
Cover of the LP with Arthur Rubinstein's recording of the Ballads by Chopin (RCA Victor, 1968)
The work is a succession of five short pieces in which, independently and progressively in each prelude, a succession of notes – E♭ / E♭- E♮ / E♭-F / E♭-F- G♭/ E♭-F- G♮) that constitute a gradual approximation to the main theme of Third Ballad, in A♭ major, op. 47, by Chopin, which appears quoted at the end of the fifth and last prelude, based, on the other hand, on a piano treatment that comes directly from the Etude in A♭ major, op. 25 no 1, known as "Aeolian Harp". All of this provokes both the use of a piano and aesthetic technique of a marked philo-romantic character, which becomes evident as the piece progresses towards its end, decidedly written in the key of A♭ major.
Beginning of the Third Ballad in A♭ major, op. 47, by Chopin
J. L. Turina, Five preludes to a theme by Chopin. Beginning of the 1st prelude (E♭)
J. L. Turina, Five preludes to a theme by Chopin. Beginning of the 2nd prelude (E♭/D♯-E♮)
J. L. Turina, Five preludes to a theme by Chopin. Beginning of the 3rd prelude (E♭-F)
J. L. Turina, Five preludes to a theme by Chopin. Beginning of the 4th prelude (E♭-F-G♭)
J. L. Turina, Five preludes to a theme by Chopin. Beginning of the 5th prelude (E♭-F-G♮)
Beginning of the Etude en A♭ major, op. 25 no 1 ("Aeolian Harp"), by Frédéric Chopin
J. L. Turina, Five preludes to a theme by Chopin. Quotation of the theme of the Third Ballad by Chopin, at the end of the fifth prelude
The Five Preludes to a Theme by Chopin were premiered on March 23, 1988 at the Theater of Madrid Singing High School by the pianist Albert Giménez Attenelle, and published together with the other works commissioned in the volume "Rubinstein and Spain", edited in 1987 by the Isaac Albéniz Foundation.
Program of the premiere (March 23, 1988)
Cover of the book Rubinstein y España. Drawing by Pablo Picasso, 1958 (Fundación Isaac Albéniz, 1987)
21 premieres in tribute to Rubinstein
By Eneique Franco
(Review published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, March 28, 1988)
By organizing the centennial commemorations of Arturo Rubinstein, the Albéniz Foundation, the Santander International Piano Competition and the founder of both endeavors, Paloma O'Shea, wanted to join the recitals, exhibitions and dedications with something that would leave a long mark. Thus, 21 Spanish composers, belonging to four generations, were commissioned to write as many pages dedicated to the great Polish pianist. The works included in the exhibition book-catalogue are now being premiered in Madrid and Barcelona, and later in Vitoria and other cities.
The most generous work of all, that of José Luis Turina (1952) consists of five approaches (preludes) to a Chopinian theme, each of which adopts a different mood. [...]