Sergei Rachmaninov (1873–1943)
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".
Top Rachmaninov pieces
Tristan & Isolde - Prelude to Act I Richard Wagner (1813-1883 : Germany) Conductor: Antonio Pappano Ensemble: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Record label: EMI Catalogue ID: 5580062
Piano Concerto No.1 in F# minor Opus 1 (1) Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943 : Russia) Conductor: Vasily Petrenko Ensemble: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Soloists: Simon Trpceski Record label: Avie Catalogue ID: AV 2191
Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor Opus 18 (1) Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943 : Russia) Conductor: Claudio Abbado Ensemble: Mahler Chamber Orchestra Soloists: Yuja Wang Record label: Deutsche Grammophon Catalogue ID: 477 9308
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Opus 43 (18) Sergei Rachmaninov Conductor: Ion Marin Ensemble: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Soloists: David Garrett Record label: Decca Catalogue ID: 476 4425
Symphony No.2 in E minor Opus 27 (3) Sergei Rachmaninov Conductor: Antonio Pappano Ensemble: National Academy of St.Cecilia Orchestra Record label: EMI Classics Catalogue ID: 50999 94946222
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