Sergei Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp minor (Russian: Прелюдия, romanized: Prelyudiya), Op. 3, No. 2, is one of the composer's most famous compositions. Part of a set of five piano pieces titled Morceaux de fantaisie, it is a 62-bar prelude in ternary (ABA) form. It is also known as The Bells of Moscow since the introduction seems to reproduce the Kremlin's most solemn carillon chimes.
Rachmaninoff later published 23 more preludes to complete a set of 24 preludes covering all the major and minor keys, to emulate earlier sets by Chopin, Alkan, Scriabin and others.
10 Preludes, Op. 23
In 1901, Rachmaninoff wrote his Prelude in G minor. This was not published until he had completed nine more preludes in 1903, the set of 10 becoming his Op. 23. These were all in different keys, none of which was C♯ minor, but it is not known whether he fully intended by this time to eventually complete the full complement of 24 preludes in different keys, to emulate earlier examples by Bach, Chopin, Alkan, Scriabin and others. There is nothing to suggest this intention from the order of the keys: F♯ minor, B♭ major, D minor, D major, G minor, E♭ major, C minor, A♭ major, E♭ minor, and G♭ major.
In this set, there are three pairs of parallel keys (D, E♭, and F♯/G♭ minor/major) and three pairs of relative keys (B♭ major/G minor, E♭ major/C minor, and E♭ minor/G♭ major), the remaining prelude (A♭ major) satisfying neither criterion. However, by choosing 11 different keys for his first 11 published preludes, he was at least keeping his options open.
13 Preludes, Op. 32
Main article: Preludes, Op. 32 (Rachmaninoff)
By 1910 Rachmaninoff had definitely decided to complete the set of 24, publishing 13 preludes, Op. 32, covering the remaining 13 keys: C major, B♭ minor, E major, E minor, G major, F minor, F major, A minor, A major, B minor, B major, G♯ minor, and D♭ major.
This set contains four pairs of parallel keys (E, F, A, and B major/minor) and four pairs of relative keys (B major/G♯ minor, C major/A minor, E minor/G major, and B♭ minor/D♭ major).
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