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Polish composer Frédéric Chopin wrote a number of preludes for solo piano solo, most famously his 24 Preludes, Op. 28, a set of short pieces for the piano, one in each of the twenty-four keys. This is one of them.
The Op. 28 Preludes were commissioned by Chopin's friend, the piano-maker and publisher Camille Pleyel, for 2,000 francs. Chopin wrote them between 1835 and 1839, partly at Valldemossa, Majorca, where he spent the winter of 1838-39 and where he had fled with his lover George Sand and her children to escape the damp Paris weather. He dedicated the preludes to Joseph Christoph Kessler, a German pianist and composer, who ten years earlier, had dedicated his own set of 24 Preludes, Op. 31, to Chopin.
The Prelude No. 15 in D-flat major, known as the "Raindrop" Prelude, is the longest of the twenty-four. The weather during their stay in Majorca was apparently very wet and Chopin is said to have composed the piece there where the note repeated throughout the work represents the raindrops, hence the nickname.
In 1836 Chopin attended a party hosted by Countess Marie d'Agoult, the mistress of fellow composer Franz Liszt. There he met the French Romantic writer Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin, Baroness Dudevant, better known by her pseudonym as George Sand. She was less than 5eet tall, dark haired, notorious for wearing trousers, smoking cigars and taking a man's name. Six years older than Chopin, they embarked on an affair and her pet names for Chopin were "Fryk-Fryk" and "Chip Chip." Their relationship continued until 1847 when a family quarrel between Sand and her children caused their break up.
In 1838 Chopin began to suffer from tuberculosis and in the winter of 1838/39 he was taken by George Sand to Majorca for his heath. Unfortunately the weather was terrible and his chronic lung disease flared up so they were banished to a cold monastery at Valldemossa. Chopin would also later complain of having to go to great lengths to obtain a piano from Paris and of the difficulty of moving it uphill to the monastery. The Polish composer reflected much of the mood of this desperate time in his 24 Preludes.
Chopin was very fastidious, especially regarding the physical appearances of his manuscripts. Once he lent a score to a friend who wore white gloves to turn the pages and returned it without a mark. Chopin opened it and grimaced with displeasure. "My dear fellow, you were smoking when you read it."
In the 1979 James Bond movie, Moonraker when Bond visits Sir Hugo Drax in his chateau, his antagonist is playing this piece on the grand piano. It also features on the soundtrack of the 1996 Australian film Shine about the life of pianist David Helfgot.
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