Raindrop Prelude

Album: Shine Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1834)

Songfacts®:

  • Polish composer Frédéric Chopin wrote a number of preludes for solo piano, most famously his 24 Preludes, Op. 28, a set of short pieces, one in each of the 24 keys. "Raindrop Prelude" 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 10 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 24. 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 5-feet 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; 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 breakup.

    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.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Julian Lennon

Julian LennonSongwriter Interviews

Julian tells the stories behind his hits "Valotte" and "Too Late for Goodbyes," and fills us in on his many non-musical pursuits. Also: what MTV meant to his career.

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum

Dave Pirner of Soul AsylumSongwriter Interviews

Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.

Meshell Ndegeocello

Meshell NdegeocelloSongwriter Interviews

Meshell Ndegeocello talks about recording "Wild Night" with John Mellencamp, and explains why she shied away from the spotlight.

Gary Louris of The Jayhawks

Gary Louris of The JayhawksSongwriter Interviews

The Jayhawks' song "Big Star" has special meaning to Gary, who explains how longevity and inspiration have trumped adulation.

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: Tarantino Edition

Songs in Famous Movie Scenes: Tarantino EditionMusic Quiz

Whether he's splitting ears or burning Nazis, Quentin Tarantino uses memorable music in his films. See if you can match the song to the scene.

Penny Ford of Snap!

Penny Ford of Snap!Songwriter Interviews

The original voice of Snap! this story is filled with angry drag queens, video impersonators and Chaka Khan.