Find out more about Rachmaninov's Second Symphony. Watch and listen to different recordings and download your favourite.
Sergei Rachmaninov (also spelled Rachmaninoff, 1873–1943) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninov, it seemed, could do nothing right by most of his contemporary critics' and composers' standards. As a person, he appeared somewhat cold and aloof - Stravinsky once called him "a six-and-a-half foot tall scowl".
Life and Music
- Sergei Rachmaninov was born on April 1st 1873 in Semyonovo, north-west Russia.
- Rachmaninov's student years were nothing short of phenomenal. He consistently amazed his teachers with his jaw-dropping ability as a pianist and composer.
- In 1891 at the age of just 18, he created a storm with his First Piano Concerto, an incredibly accomplished student work.
- Music continued to flow from the young genius, including an apprentice opera, Aleko, in 1892.
- Rachmaninov seemed unstoppable, composing a great run of pieces including the Cello Sonata and the Second Suite for Two Pianos, both in 1901.
- However, his First Symphony from 1896 was roundly panned by critics, and caused the composer to enter a deep depression.
- Rachmaninov's masterpiece was surely the Second Piano Concerto from 1901. It's subsequent use in the film Brief Encounter have made it a constant favourite.
- With his phenomenal conducting skills, Rachmaninov was appointed Principal Conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre in 1904 and offered several major posts in America, most notably with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
- He left Russia for good after the 1917 Russian revolution, first heading to Helsinki and finally ending up in the US.
- Rachmaninov died of melanoma on 28 March 1943, in Beverly Hills, four days before his 70th birthday.
Did you know?
In 1931 Rachmaninov's music was officially banned in the USSR as 'decadent' with the chilling warning: "This music [The Bells] is by a violent enemy of Soviet Russia: Rachmaninov".
Rachmaninov: 15 facts about the great composer
A brilliant pianist, conductor and composer, Rachmaninov wrote a piano concerto that has become the nation's favourite piece of classical music.
The young Rachmaninov knocked out this pianistic pinnacle aged just 19 years old. Why has it managed to remain a favourite for such a long time?
Ten preludes, ten examples of why Rachmaninov is probably the greatest composer to grace the ivories - especially for the prelude in G minor…
Find out more about Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Watch and listen to different recordings and download your favourite.
Find out more about Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor. Watch and listen to different recordings and download your favourite.
Here’s a fascinating and bizarre Soviet synthesiser from 1932
Watch this pianist turn a Rachmaninov prelude into a mind-blowing jazz spectacle
How far can those great pianists stretch their fingers?
“BAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.” Nailed it.
Classic FM Drive Featured Album, 5 May 2015, after 6pm
An impressive Romantic showcase from the YouTube sensation pianist. Album of the Week, 25 March 2013
The greatest American composers ever, all assembled in one handy gallery! Get to know Glass, Bernstein, Whitacre, Gershwin and all the rest
Top Rachmaninov Pieces
- Conductor: Ion Marin
- Ensemble: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
- Soloists: David Garrett
- Record Label: Decca
- Catalog: 476 4425
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