Sergei Rachmaninoff
Overview
 
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n: Сергей Васильевич Рахманиновъ) (sʲɪrˈɡʲej rɐxˈmanʲɪnəf; 1 April 1873 – 28 March 1943) was a Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 in Russian classical music. Early influences of Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

, Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

, and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors.
The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff's compositional output.
Encyclopedia
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n: Сергей Васильевич Рахманиновъ) (sʲɪrˈɡʲej rɐxˈmanʲɪnəf; 1 April 1873 – 28 March 1943) was a Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 in Russian classical music. Early influences of Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

, Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

, and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors.
The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff's compositional output. He made a point of using his own skills as a performer to explore fully the expressive possibilities of the instrument. Even in his earliest works he revealed a sure grasp of idiomatic piano writing and a striking gift for melody.

Youth

Rachmaninoff was born on 1 April [O.S.
Old Style and New Style dates
Old Style and New Style are used in English language historical studies either to indicate that the start of the Julian year has been adjusted to start on 1 January even though documents written at the time use a different start of year ; or to indicate that a date conforms to the Julian...

 20 March] 1873 in Semyonovo, near Great Novgorod, in north-western Russia
Northwestern Federal District
Northwestern Federal District is one of the eight federal districts of Russia. It consists of the northern part of European Russia. Its population was 13,583,800 according to the 2010 Census, living on an area of...

 into a family of the Russian aristocracy, originally of partly Tatar descent, which had been in the service of the Russian tsars since the 16th century. His parents were both amateur pianists. When he was four, his mother gave him casual piano lessons, but it was his paternal grandfather, Arkady Alexandrovich Rachmaninoff, who brought Anna Ornatskaya, a teacher from Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, to teach the 9 year old Sergei in 1882. Ornatskaya remained for two or three years, until the family's house in Semyonovo had to be sold to settle debts and the Rachmaninoffs moved to Saint Petersburg.

Rachmaninoff studied at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory
Saint Petersburg Conservatory
The N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory is a music school in Saint Petersburg. In 2004, the conservatory had around 275 faculty members and 1,400 students.-History:...

 before moving alone to Moscow at age 14 to enroll at the Moscow Imperial Conservatory. His parents arranged for him to live in the home of his piano teacher, the severe and autocratic Nikolai Zverev
Nikolai Zverev
Nikolai Sergeyevich Zverev was a Russian pianist and teacher known for his pupils Alexander Siloti, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Scriabin, Konstantin Igumnov, Alexander Goldenweiser, and others.- Life :...

 who, Rachmaninoff admitted in later interviews, instilled in the formerly rather lazy boy the disciplined work habits which would serve him well.
The young Rachmaninoff showed great skill in both piano and composition which he studied with Anton Arensky
Anton Arensky
Anton Stepanovich Arensky -Biography:Arensky was born in Novgorod, Russia. He was musically precocious and had composed a number of songs and piano pieces by the age of nine...

, and while still a student he wrote the one-act opera, Aleko, for which he was awarded a gold medal in composition. His First Piano Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 1 (Rachmaninoff)
Sergei Rachmaninoff composed his Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1, in 1892, at age 19. He dedicated the work to Alexander Siloti. He revised the work thoroughly in 1917.-First version:...

, and a group of piano pieces, Morceaux de fantaisie
Morceaux de Fantaisie
Morceaux de fantaisie , Op. 3, is a set of five piano solo pieces composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1892...

(Op. 3, 1892), a set which includes the famous Prelude in C sharp minor followed. It was the great success of this Prelude (Op. 3, No. 2), which sold thousands of copies under various and sometimes lurid titles, that made Rachmaninoff a well known composer both in Russia and in the West, however he came eventually to detest it since it was so often demanded as an encore at his recitals. In later years he sometimes teased an expectant audience by asking, "Oh, must I?" or claiming an inability to remember it. Zverev and his student fell out over Rachmaninoff's ambition to be a composer and Alexander Siloti
Alexander Siloti
Alexander Ilyich Siloti was a Russian pianist, conductor and composer. Alexander Ilyich Siloti (also Ziloti, , Aleksandr Iljič Ziloti) (9 October 1863, near Kharkiv - 8 December 1945, New York) was a Russian pianist, conductor and composer. Alexander Ilyich Siloti (also Ziloti, , Aleksandr Iljič...

, who was Rachmaninoff's cousin and had been one of the greatest of Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

's pupils became his teacher.

While still a student at the Conservatory, he met the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

, who became an important mentor and commissioned the teenage Rachmaninoff to arrange a piano transcription of the suite from his ballet The Sleeping Beauty. This commission had first been offered to Siloti, who declined, but suggested instead that Rachmaninoff would be more than capable. Siloti supervised the arrangement which became the first of many brilliant and effective transcriptions Rachmaninoff would write over the course of his career. He graduated from the Conservatory in 1892 in an extraordinary class in which he shared the Gold Medal for Piano with Josef Lhevinne
Josef Lhévinne
Josef Lhévinne was a Russian pianist and piano teacher.Joseph Arkadievich Levin was born into a family of musicians in Oryol and studied at the Imperial Conservatory in Moscow under Vasily Safonov...

 and fellow composer/pianist Alexander Scriabin
Alexander Scriabin
Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin was a Russian composer and pianist who initially developed a lyrical and idiosyncratic tonal language inspired by the music of Frédéric Chopin. Quite independent of the innovations of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed an increasingly atonal musical system,...

.

Setbacks and recovery

The sudden death of Tchaikovsky
Death of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
On ,Russia was still using old style dates in the 19th century, and information sources used in the article sometimes report dates as old style rather than new style. Dates in the article are taken verbatim from the source and therefore are in the same style as the source from which they come...

 in 1893 was a great blow to young Rachmaninoff; he immediately began writing a second Trio élégiaque in his memory, revealing the depth and sincerity of his grief in the music's overwhelming aura of gloom. His First Symphony
Symphony No. 1 (Rachmaninoff)
Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Op. 13, is a music piece by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, written at Ivanovka, an estate near Tambov, Russia, between January and October 1895...

 (Op. 13, 1896) was premièred on 28 March 1897 in one of a long-running series of "Russian Symphony Concerts
Russian Symphony Concerts
The Russian Symphony Concerts were a series of Russian classical music concerts hosted by timber magnate and musical philanthropist Mitrofan Belyayev in St. Petersburg as a forum for young Russian composers to have their orchestral works performed...

", but was brutally panned by critic and nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 composer César Cui
César Cui
César Antonovich Cui was a Russian of French and Lithuanian descent. His profession was as an army officer and a teacher of fortifications; his avocational life has particular significance in the history of music, in that he was a composer and music critic; in this sideline he is known as a...

 who likened it to a depiction of the ten plagues of Egypt
Plagues of Egypt
The Plagues of Egypt , also called the Ten Plagues or the Biblical Plagues, were ten calamities that, according to the biblical Book of Exodus, Israel's God, Yahweh, inflicted upon Egypt to persuade Pharaoh to release the ill-treated Israelites from slavery. Pharaoh capitulated after the tenth...

, suggesting it would be admired by the "inmates" of a music conservatory in hell. The deficiencies of the performance, conducted by Alexander Glazunov
Alexander Glazunov
Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov was a Russian composer of the late Russian Romantic period, music teacher and conductor...

, were not commented on. Alexander Ossovsky
Alexander Ossovsky
Alexander Vyacheslavovich Ossovsky , 1871 –July 31, 1957) was a renowned Russian musical writer, critic and musicologist, professor at Saint Petersburg Conservatory, pupil of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and friend of Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alexander Siloti and Nikolai...

 in his memoir about Rachmaninoff tells, first hand, a story about this event. In Ossovsky's opinion, Glazunov made poor use of rehearsal time, and the concert program itself, which contained two other premières, was also a factor. Natalia Satina, later Rachmaninoff's wife, and other witnesses suggested that Glazunov, who was by all accounts an alcoholic, may have been drunk, although this was never intimated by Rachmaninoff.
After the poor reception of his First Symphony, Rachmaninoff fell into a period of deep depression that lasted three years, during which he wrote almost nothing. One stroke of good fortune came from Savva Mamontov
Savva Mamontov
Savva Ivanovich Mamontov was a famous Russian industrialist, merchant, entrepreneur, and patron of the arts.-Biography:He was a son of the wealthy merchant and industrialist Ivan Feodorovich Mamontov and Maria Tikhonovna . In 1841 the family moved to Moscow. From 1852 he studied in St...

, a famous Russian industrialist and patron of the arts, who two years earlier had founded the Moscow Private Russian Opera Company. He offered Rachmaninoff the post of assistant conductor for the 1897–8 season and the cash-strapped composer accepted. The company included the great basso Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin was a Russian opera singer. The possessor of a large and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses and is often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.During the first phase...

 who would become a lifelong friend. During this period he became engaged to fellow pianist Natalia Satina whom he had known since childhood and who was his first cousin. The Russian Orthodox Church and the girl's parents both opposed their marriage and this thwarting of their plans only deepened Rachmaninoff's depression.

In January 1900, Rachmaninoff and Chaliapin were invited to Yasnaya Polyana
Yasnaya Polyana
Yasnaya Polyana was the home of the writer Leo Tolstoy, where he was born, wrote War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and is buried. Tolstoy called Yasnaya Polyana his "inaccessible literary stronghold". It is located southwest of Tula, Russia and from Moscow.In 1921, the estate formally became his...

, the home of writer Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian writer who primarily wrote novels and short stories. Later in life, he also wrote plays and essays. His two most famous works, the novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, are acknowledged as two of the greatest novels of all time and a pinnacle of realist...

, whom Rachmaninoff greatly admired. That evening, Rachmaninoff played one of his compositions, then accompanied Chaliapin in his song "Fate", one of the pieces he had written after his First Symphony. At the end of the performance, Tolstoy took the composer aside and asked, "Is such music needed by anyone? I must tell you how I dislike it all. Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

 is nonsense, Pushkin and Lermontov
Mikhail Lermontov
Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov , a Russian Romantic writer, poet and painter, sometimes called "the poet of the Caucasus", became the most important Russian poet after Alexander Pushkin's death in 1837. Lermontov is considered the supreme poet of Russian literature alongside Pushkin and the greatest...

 also." (The song "Fate" is based on the two opening measures of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1804–08. This symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies. It comprises four movements: an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast...

.) As his guests were leaving, Tolstoy said, "Forgive me if I've hurt you by my comments," and Rachmaninoff graciously replied, "How could I be hurt on my own account, if I was not hurt on Beethoven's?" but the criticism of the great author stung nevertheless.

In the same year, Rachmaninoff began a course of autosuggestive therapy
Autosuggestion
Autosuggestion is a psychological technique that was developed by apothecary Émile Coué from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.-Origins:...

 with psychologist Nikolai Dahl
Nikolai Dahl
Nikolai Vladimirovich Dahl, often called Nicolai Dahl was a Russian physician. He graduated from the Moscow University in 1887, and was a studied in France with Charcot who initiated a therapy by hypnotizing his patients. Dahl had a private practice in Moscow. His speciality was in the fields of...

, who was himself an excellent though amateur musician. Rachmaninoff began to recover his confidence and eventually he was able to overcome his writer's block
Writer's block
Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some "blocked"...

. In 1901 he completed his Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between the autumn of 1900 and April 1901. The second and third movements were first performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900...

 and dedicated it to Dr. Dahl. The piece was enthusiastically received at its premiere at which Rachmaninoff was soloist and has since become one of the most popular and frequently played concertos in the repertoire. Rachmaninoff's spirits were further bolstered when, after three years of engagement, he was finally allowed to marry his beloved Natalia. They were wed in a suburb of Moscow by an army priest on 29 April 1902, using the family's military background to circumvent the church. The marriage was a happy one, producing two daughters - Irina, later Princess Wolkonsky (1903-1969) and Tatiana Conus (1907-1961). Although Rachmaninoff had an affair with the 22-year-old singer Nina Koshetz
Nina Koshetz
Nina Koshetz ; December 30, 1891 - May 14, 1965) was a Ukrainian, later American, soprano opera and recital singer.Her father, a famous opera singer Pavel Koshetz , committed suicide. She was then 12 years....

 in 1916, his and Natalia's union lasted until the composer's death. Natalia Rachmaninova died in 1951.

After several successful appearances as a conductor, Rachmaninoff was offered a job as conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre
Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by architect Joseph Bové, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world...

 in 1904, although political reasons led to his resignation in March 1906, after which he stayed in Italy until July. He spent the following three winters in Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

, Germany, intensively composing, and returning to the family estate of Ivanovka every summer.

Rachmaninoff made his first tour of the United States as a pianist in 1909, an event for which he composed the Piano Concerto No. 3
Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)
The Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30, composed in 1909 by Sergei Rachmaninoff is famous for its technical and musical demands on the performer...

 (Op. 30, 1909) as a calling card. These successful concerts made him a popular figure in America, however he was unhappy on the tour and declined requests for future American concerts including an offer to become permanent conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The early death in 1915 of Alexander Scriabin
Alexander Scriabin
Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin was a Russian composer and pianist who initially developed a lyrical and idiosyncratic tonal language inspired by the music of Frédéric Chopin. Quite independent of the innovations of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed an increasingly atonal musical system,...

, who had been his good friend and fellow student at the Moscow Conservatory, affected Rachmaninoff so deeply that he went on a tour giving concerts entirely devoted to Scriabin's music. When asked to play some of his own music, he would reply, "Only Scriabin tonight."

Emigration and career in the West

The 1917 Russian Revolution meant the end of Russia as the composer had known it. With this change followed the loss of his estate, his way of life, and his livelihood. On 22 December 1917, he left St. Petersburg for Helsinki
Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

 with his wife and two daughters on an open sled, having only a few notebooks with sketches of his own compositions and two orchestral scores, his unfinished opera Monna Vanna and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

's opera The Golden Cockerel
The Golden Cockerel
The Golden Cockerel is an opera in three acts, with short prologue and even shorter epilogue, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Its libretto, by Vladimir Belsky, derives from Alexander Pushkin's 1834 poem The Tale of the Golden Cockerel, which in turn is based on two chapters of Tales of the Alhambra by...

. He spent a year giving concerts in Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 while also laboring to widen his concert repertoire. Near the end of 1918, he received three offers of lucrative American contracts. Although he declined all three, he decided the United States might offer a solution to his financial concerns. He departed Kristiania (Oslo)
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

 for New York on 1 November 1918. Once there, Rachmaninoff quickly chose an agent, Charles Ellis, and accepted the gift of a piano from Steinway before playing 40 concerts in a four-month period. At the end of the 1919–20 season, he also signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company
Victor Talking Machine Company
The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American corporation, the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. It was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey....

. In 1921, the Rachmaninoffs bought a house in the United States, where they consciously recreated the atmosphere of Ivanovka, entertaining Russian guests, employing Russian servants, and observing Russian customs.

Due to his busy concert career, Rachmaninoff's output as composer slowed tremendously. Between 1918 and his death in 1943, while living in the U.S. and Europe, he completed only six compositions. This was partly due to spending much of his time performing in order to support himself and his family, but the main cause was homesickness. It was during these years that he traveled the United States as a touring pianist. When he left Russia, it was as if he had left behind his inspiration. His revival as a composer became possible only after he had built himself a new home, Villa Senar
Villa Senar
Villa Senar is an estate built in Switzerland by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. He purchased the plot of land near Hertenstein near Lake Lucerne in 1932. The name of the estate originated from the names of Rachmaninoff and his wife: Sergei and Natalia, by combining the first two letters...

 on Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne
Lake Lucerne is a lake in central Switzerland and the fourth largest in the country.The lake has a complicated shape, with bends and arms reaching from the city of Lucerne into the mountains. It has a total area of 114 km² , an elevation of 434 m , and a maximum depth of 214 m . Its volume is 11.8...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, where he spent summers from 1932 to 1939. There, in the comfort of his own villa which reminded him of his old family estate, Rachmaninoff composed the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor, Op. 43 is a concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is written for solo piano and symphony orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto. The work was written at Villa Senar, according to the score, from July 3 to August 18, 1934...

, one of his best known works, in 1934. He went on to compose his Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)
Sergei Rachmaninoff composed his Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44 between 1935 and 1936. The Third Symphony is considered a transitional work in Rachmaninoff's output. In melodic outline and rhythm it is his most expressively Russian symphony, particularly in the dance rhythms of the finale...

 (Op. 44, 1935–36) and the Symphonic Dances
Symphonic Dances (Rachmaninoff)
The Symphonic Dances, Op. 45, is an orchestral suite in three movements. Completed in 1940, it is Sergei Rachmaninoff's last composition. The work summarizes Rachmaninoff's compositional output....

(Op. 45, 1940), his last completed work. Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy was a Hungarian-born conductor and violinist.-Early life:Born Jenő Blau in Budapest, Hungary, Ormandy began studying violin at the Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music at the age of five...

 and the Philadelphia Orchestra
Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is a symphony orchestra based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. One of the "Big Five" American orchestras, it was founded in 1900...

 premiered the Symphonic Dances in 1941 in the Academy of Music
Academy of Music (Philadelphia)
The Academy of Music, also known as American Academy of Music, is a concert hall and opera house located at Broad and Locust Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was built in 1857 and is the oldest opera house in the United States that is still used for its original purpose...

.

In late 1940 or 1941 he was approached by the makers of the British film Dangerous Moonlight
Dangerous Moonlight
Dangerous Moonlight is a 1941 British film, starring Anton Walbrook, best known for its score written by Richard Addinsell with orchestrations by Roy Douglas, which includes the Warsaw Concerto...

to write a short concerto-like piece for use in the film, but he declined. The job went to Richard Addinsell
Richard Addinsell
Richard Stewart Addinsell was a British composer, best known for film music, primarily his Warsaw Concerto, composed for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight .-Life:...

 and the orchestrator Roy Douglas
Roy Douglas
Roy Douglas is a British composer and arranger. He worked with Ralph Vaughan Williams and Richard Addinsell.-Works as composer:*Oboe quartet [1932]...

, who came up with the Warsaw Concerto
Warsaw Concerto
The Warsaw Concerto is a single-movement piano concerto written for the 1941 film Dangerous Moonlight . It was written by British composer Richard Addinsell...

.

Friendship with Vladimir Horowitz

Just as the Rachmaninoff household in the United States strove to reclaim the lost world of pre-revolutionary Russia, Rachmaninoff also sought out the friendship and company of some great Russian musical luminaries. In addition to Chaliapin
Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin was a Russian opera singer. The possessor of a large and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses and is often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.During the first phase...

, he befriended pianist Vladimir Horowitz
Vladimir Horowitz
Vladimir Samoylovich Horowitz    was a Russian-American classical virtuoso pianist and minor composer. His technique and use of tone color and the excitement of his playing were legendary. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.-Life and early...

 in 1928.

Arranged by Steinway artist representative Alexander Greiner, their meeting took place in the basement of New York's Steinway Hall
Steinway Hall
Steinway Hall is the name of buildings housing concert halls, showrooms and sales departments for Steinway & Sons pianos. The first Steinway Hall was opened 1866 in New York City. Today, Steinway Halls and Steinway-Häuser are located in world cities such as New York City, London, Hamburg, Berlin,...

, on 8 January 1928, four days prior to Horowitz’s debut at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

 playing the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 1 (Tchaikovsky)
The Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between November 1874 and February 1875. It was revised in the summer of 1879 and again in December 1888. The first version received heavy criticism from Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky's desired pianist....

. Referring to his own Third Piano Concerto, Rachmaninoff said to Greiner he heard that “Mr. Horowitz plays my Concerto very well. I would like to accompany him.”

For Horowitz, it was a dream come true to meet Rachmaninoff, to whom he referred as “the musical God of my youth ... To think that this great man should accompany me in his own Third Concerto ... This was the most unforgettable impression of my life! This was my real debut!” Rachmaninoff was impressed by his younger colleague. Speaking of Horowitz’s interpretation to Abram Chasins
Abram Chasins
Abram Chasins was an American composer, pianist, piano teacher, lecturer, musicologist, music broadcaster, radio executive and author....

, he said “He swallowed it whole ... he had the courage, the intensity, the daring.”

The meeting between composer and interpreter marked the beginning of a friendship that continued until Rachmaninoff's death. The two were quite supportive of each other's careers and greatly admired each other's work. Horowitz stipulated to his manager that “If I am out of town when Rachmaninoff plays in New York, you must telegraph me, and you must let me come back, no matter where I am or what engagement I have.” Likewise Rachmaninoff was always present at Horowitz’s New York concerts and was “always the last to leave the hall.”

Notably, the composer was present at Carnegie Hall for Horowitz’s American debut on 12 January 1928. Recognizing the great pianistic ability, Rachmaninoff offered his friendship and advice to Horowitz, telling him in a letter that “You play very well, but you went through the Tchaikovsky Concerto too rapidly, especially the cadenza." Horowitz never agreed with the criticism of his tempo, and retained his interpretation in future performances of the work.

Rachmaninoff and Horowitz frequently performed two-piano recitals at the composer's home in Beverly Hills. None of these performances, which included the Second Suite and the two-piano reduction of the Symphonic Dances, were recorded.

Rachmaninoff's faith in Horowitz's performances was such that, in 1940, with the composer's consent, Horowitz created a fusion of the 1913 original and 1931 revised versions of his Second Piano Sonata
Piano Sonata No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 36, is a piano sonata in B-flat minor composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1913. Rachmaninoff revised it in 1931, with the note, "The new version, revised and reduced by author." It has three movements:#Allegro agitato#Non allegro...

.

For Rachmaninoff, Horowitz was a champion of both his solo works and his Third Concerto, about which Rachmaninoff remarked publicly after the 7 August 1942 Hollywood Bowl performance that “This is the way I always dreamed my concerto should be played, but I never expected to hear it that way on Earth.”

Illness and death

Rachmaninoff fell ill during a concert tour in late 1942 and was subsequently diagnosed with advanced melanoma
Melanoma
Melanoma is a malignant tumor of melanocytes. Melanocytes are cells that produce the dark pigment, melanin, which is responsible for the color of skin. They predominantly occur in skin, but are also found in other parts of the body, including the bowel and the eye...

. The family was informed but the composer was not. On 1 February 1943 he and his wife became American citizens. His last recital, given on 14 February 1943 at the Alumni Gymnasium of the University of Tennessee
University of Tennessee
The University of Tennessee is a public land-grant university headquartered at Knoxville, Tennessee, United States...

 in Knoxville, included Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2, which contains the famous Marche funèbre (Funeral March). A statue called "Rachmaninoff: The Last Concert", designed and sculpted by Victor Bokarev, now stands in World Fair Park in Knoxville as a permanent tribute to Rachmaninoff. He became so ill after this recital that he had to return to his home in Los Angeles.

Rachmaninoff died of melanoma on 28 March 1943, in Beverly Hills, California, just four days before his 70th birthday. A choir sang his All Night Vigil at his funeral. He had wanted to be buried at the Villa Senar
Villa Senar
Villa Senar is an estate built in Switzerland by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff. He purchased the plot of land near Hertenstein near Lake Lucerne in 1932. The name of the estate originated from the names of Rachmaninoff and his wife: Sergei and Natalia, by combining the first two letters...

, his estate in Switzerland, but the conditions of World War II made fulfilling this request impossible. He was therefore interred on 1 June in Kensico Cemetery
Kensico Cemetery
Kensico Cemetery, located in Valhalla, Westchester County, New York, was founded in 1889, when many New York City cemeteries were becoming full, and rural cemeteries were being created near the railroads which served the city...

 in Valhalla, New York
Valhalla, New York
Valhalla is an unincorporated hamlet and census-designated place that is located within the town of Mount Pleasant, New York, in Westchester County. Its population was 3,162 at the 2010 U.S. Census...

.

Works


Rachmaninoff wrote five works for piano and orchestra—four concertos plus the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor, Op. 43 is a concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is written for solo piano and symphony orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto. The work was written at Villa Senar, according to the score, from July 3 to August 18, 1934...

. Of the concertos, the Second
Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between the autumn of 1900 and April 1901. The second and third movements were first performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900...

 and Third
Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)
The Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30, composed in 1909 by Sergei Rachmaninoff is famous for its technical and musical demands on the performer...

 are the most popular. He also wrote three symphonies, and his other orchestral works include The Rock
The Rock (Rachmaninoff)
The Rock, Op. 7 is a fantasia or symphonic poem for orchestra written by Sergei Rachmaninoff in the summer of 1893. It is dedicated to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.- Inspiration :...

(Op. 7), Caprice Bohémien
Caprice Bohémien
Caprice Bohémien, Op. 12 is a symphonic poem for full orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1892-1894. An earlier example of Rachmaninoff's compositions, the piece consists of many immense moments played in full a tutti, which was the same bombastic nature that critics would lambast with his...

(Op. 12), The Isle of the Dead
Isle of the Dead (Rachmaninoff)
Isle of the Dead, Op. 29, is a symphonic poem composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rachmaninoff was inspired by Arnold Böcklin's painting, Isle of the Dead, which he saw in Paris in 1907. He concluded the composition while staying in Dresden in 1908...

(Op. 29), and the Symphonic Dances
Symphonic Dances (Rachmaninoff)
The Symphonic Dances, Op. 45, is an orchestral suite in three movements. Completed in 1940, it is Sergei Rachmaninoff's last composition. The work summarizes Rachmaninoff's compositional output....

(Op. 45).

Works for piano solo include the Preludes, ten in Op. 23
Preludes, Op. 23 (Rachmaninoff)
Ten Preludes, Op. 23, is a set of ten preludes for solo piano, composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1901 and 1903. This set includes the famous Prelude in G minor.- Composition :...

 and thirteen in Op. 32
Preludes, Op. 32 (Rachmaninoff)
Thirteen Preludes , Op. 32, is a set of thirteen preludes for solo piano, composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1910.-Works in this opus:Opus 32 contains 13 preludes:*No. 1 in C major *No. 2 in B flat minor...

. Together with the Prelude in C-sharp minor (Op. 3, No. 2) from Morceaux de fantaisie
Morceaux de Fantaisie
Morceaux de fantaisie , Op. 3, is a set of five piano solo pieces composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1892...

(Op. 3), they traverse all 24 major and minor keys. Especially difficult are the two sets of Études-Tableaux, Op. 33 and 39, which are very demanding study pictures. Stylistically, Op. 33 hearkens back to the preludes, while Op. 39 shows the influences of Scriabin
Alexander Scriabin
Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin was a Russian composer and pianist who initially developed a lyrical and idiosyncratic tonal language inspired by the music of Frédéric Chopin. Quite independent of the innovations of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed an increasingly atonal musical system,...

 and Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

. There are also the Six moments musicaux
Six Moments Musicaux (Rachmaninoff)
Six moments musicaux , Op. 16, is a set of solo piano pieces composed by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff between October and December, 1896. Moments musicaux comprises a group of six separate works which reproduce musical forms characteristic of previous musical eras...

(Op. 16), the Variations on a Theme of Chopin
Variations on a Theme of Chopin (Rachmaninoff)
Not to be confused with a work with the same title by Federico Mompou or Ferruccio Busoni's work of the same title.Variations on a Theme of Chopin , Op. 22, is a group of 22 variations on Frédéric Chopin's Prelude in C minor Not to be confused with a work with the same title by Federico Mompou or...

(Op. 22), and the Variations on a Theme of Corelli (Op. 42). He wrote two piano sonata
Piano sonata
A piano sonata is a sonata written for a solo piano. Piano sonatas are usually written in three or four movements, although some piano sonatas have been written with a single movement , two movements , five or even more movements...

s, both of which are large scale and virtuosic in their technical demands. Rachmaninoff also composed works for two pianos, four hands, including two Suites (the first subtitled Fantasie-Tableaux), a version of the Symphonic Dances (Op. 45), and an arrangement of the C-sharp minor Prelude, as well as a Russian Rhapsody, and he arranged his First Symphony (below) for piano four-hands. Both these works were published posthumously.

Rachmaninoff wrote two major a cappella
A cappella
A cappella music is specifically solo or group singing without instrumental sound, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. It is the opposite of cantata, which is accompanied singing. A cappella was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato...

 choral works—the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the All-Night Vigil (also known as the Vespers). Other choral works include a choral symphony
Choral symphony
A choral symphony is a musical composition for orchestra, choir, sometimes with solo vocalists, which in its internal workings and overall musical architecture adheres broadly to symphonic musical form. The term "choral symphony" in this context was coined by Hector Berlioz when describing his...

, The Bells, the Spring Cantata
Spring Cantata (Rachmaninoff)
The Vesna Cantata for Baritone, Chorus, and Orchestra, Op. 20 is a single-movement cantata written by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1902. The work was finished after the famous Second Piano Concerto...

, the Three Russian Songs
Three Russian Songs, Op. 41 (Rachmaninoff)
The Three Russian Songs, Op. 41 for chorus and orchestra were written by Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1926. It is the last of Rachmaninoff's three works for chorus and orchestra, the others being the cantata Spring, Op. 20 , and the choral symphony The Bells, Op. 35...

and an early Concerto for Choir (a cappella). He also completed three operas, Aleko, The Miserly Knight
The Miserly Knight
The Miserly Knight, also The Covetous Knight, is a Russian opera in one act with music by Sergei Rachmaninoff, with the libretto based on the drama of Alexander Pushkin. The composer decided essentially to set the Pushkin text as written, and had Feodor Chaliapin in mind for the role of the Baron...

,
and Francesca da Rimini. He started another opera in 1907, based on a work by Maurice Maeterlinck
Maurice Maeterlinck
Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck, also called Comte Maeterlinck from 1932, was a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who wrote in French. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911. The main themes in his work are death and the meaning of life...

, titled Monna Vanna, but did not finish it. It was completed by Igor Buketoff
Igor Buketoff
Igor Buketoff was an American conductor, arranger and teacher. He had a special affinity with Russian music and with Sergei Rachmaninoff in particular. He also strongly promoted British contemporary music, and new music in general.- Biography :Buketoff was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son...

 and had its first performance in 1984.

His chamber music includes two piano trios, both which are named Trio Elégiaque (the second of which is a memorial tribute to Tchaikovsky), and a Cello Sonata
Cello Sonata (Rachmaninoff)
Sergei Rachmaninoff's Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19, a sonata for cello and piano, was completed in November 1901 and published a year later. As typical of sonatas in the Romantic period, it has four movements. Rachmaninoff disliked calling it a cello sonata because he thought the two instruments...

. In his chamber music, the piano tends to be perceived by some to dominate the ensemble. He also composed many songs for voice and piano, to texts by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy
Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy
Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy , nicknamed the Comrade Count, was a Russian and Soviet writer who wrote in many genres but specialized in science fiction and historical novels...

, Alexander Pushkin, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

, Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Shelley was famous for his association with John Keats and Lord Byron...

, Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

 and Anton Chekhov
Anton Chekhov
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian physician, dramatist and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics...

, among others. Among his most popular songs is the wordless Vocalise
Vocalise (Rachmaninoff)
Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 is a song by Sergei Rachmaninoff, published in 1912 as the last of his Fourteen Songs, Op. 34. Written for voice with piano accompaniment, it contains no words, but is sung using any one vowel...

.

Compositional style

Rachmaninoff's style showed initially the influence of Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

. Beginning in the mid-1890s, his compositions began showing a more individual tone. His First Symphony has many original features. Its brutal gestures and uncompromising power of expression were unprecedented in Russian music at the time. Its flexible rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

s, sweeping lyricism and stringent economy of thematic material were all features he kept and refined in subsequent works. After the three fallow years following the poor reception of the symphony, Rachmaninoff's style began developing significantly. He started leaning towards sumptuous harmonies
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

 and broadly lyrical, often passionate melodies. His orchestration became subtler and more varied, with textures carefully contrasted, and his writing on the whole became more concise.

Especially important is Rachmaninoff's use of unusually widely spaced chords for bell-like sounds: this occurs in many pieces, most notably in the choral symphony
Choral symphony
A choral symphony is a musical composition for orchestra, choir, sometimes with solo vocalists, which in its internal workings and overall musical architecture adheres broadly to symphonic musical form. The term "choral symphony" in this context was coined by Hector Berlioz when describing his...

 The Bells, the Second Piano Concerto, the E flat major Étude-Tableaux (Op. 33, No. 7), and the B-minor Prelude (Op. 32, No. 10). He was also fond of Russian Orthodox chants. He uses them most perceptibly in his Vespers, but many of his melodies found their origins in these chants. The opening melody of the First Symphony is derived from chants. (Note that the opening melody of the Third Piano Concerto is not derived from chants; when asked, Rachmaninoff said that "it had written itself"). Rachmaninoff's frequently used motifs include the Dies Irae
Dies Irae
Dies Irae is a thirteenth century Latin hymn thought to be written by Thomas of Celano . It is a medieval Latin poem characterized by its accentual stress and its rhymed lines. The metre is trochaic...

, often just the fragments of the first phrase.
Rachmaninoff had great command of counterpoint
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 and fugal
Fugue
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

 writing, thanks to his studies with Taneyev. The above-mentioned occurrence of the Dies Irae in the Second Symphony is but a small example of this. Very characteristic of his writing is chromatic
Chromatic scale
The chromatic scale is a musical scale with twelve pitches, each a semitone apart. On a modern piano or other equal-tempered instrument, all the half steps are the same size...

 counterpoint. This talent was paired with a confidence in writing in both large- and small-scale forms. The Third Piano Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)
The Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30, composed in 1909 by Sergei Rachmaninoff is famous for its technical and musical demands on the performer...

 especially shows a structural ingenuity, while each of the preludes grows from a tiny melodic or rhythmic fragment into a taut, powerfully evocative miniature, crystallizing a particular mood or sentiment while employing a complexity of texture, rhythmic flexibility and a pungent chromatic harmony.
His compositional style had already begun changing before the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 deprived him of his homeland. The harmonic
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

 writing in The Bells (composed in 1913 but not published until 1920) became as advanced as in any of the works Rachmaninoff would write in Russia, partly because the melodic material has a harmonic aspect which arises from its chromatic
Chromaticism
Chromaticism is a compositional technique interspersing the primary diatonic pitches and chords with other pitches of the chromatic scale. Chromaticism is in contrast or addition to tonality or diatonicism...

 ornamentation. Further changes are apparent in the revised First Piano Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 1 (Rachmaninoff)
Sergei Rachmaninoff composed his Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1, in 1892, at age 19. He dedicated the work to Alexander Siloti. He revised the work thoroughly in 1917.-First version:...

, which he finished just before leaving Russia, as well as in the Op. 38 songs and Op. 39 Études-Tableaux. In both these sets Rachmaninoff was less concerned with pure melody than with coloring. His near-Impressionist
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 style perfectly matched the texts by symbolist poets. The Op. 39 Études-Tableaux are among the most demanding pieces he wrote for any medium, both technically and in the sense that the player must see beyond any technical challenges to a considerable array of emotions, then unify all these aspects

The composer's friend, Vladimir Wilshaw, noticed this compositional change continuing in the early 1930s, with a difference between the sometimes very extroverted Op. 39 Études-Tableaux (the composer had broken a string on the piano at one performance) and the Variations on a Theme of Corelli (Op. 42, 1931). The variations show an even greater textural clarity than in the Op. 38 songs, combined with a more abrasive use of chromatic harmony and a new rhythmic incisiveness. This would be characteristic of all his later works — the Piano Concerto No. 4
Piano Concerto No. 4 (Rachmaninoff)
Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40 is a music piece by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, completed in 1926. The work currently exists in three versions. Following its unsuccessful premiere he made cuts and other amendments before publishing it in 1928. With continued lack of success, he...

 (Op. 40, 1926) is composed in a more emotionally introverted style, with a greater clarity of texture. Nevertheless, some of his most beautiful (nostalgic and melancholy) melodies occur in the Third Symphony
Symphony No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)
Sergei Rachmaninoff composed his Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44 between 1935 and 1936. The Third Symphony is considered a transitional work in Rachmaninoff's output. In melodic outline and rhythm it is his most expressively Russian symphony, particularly in the dance rhythms of the finale...

, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor, Op. 43 is a concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is written for solo piano and symphony orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto. The work was written at Villa Senar, according to the score, from July 3 to August 18, 1934...

, and Symphonic Dances
Symphonic Dances (Rachmaninoff)
The Symphonic Dances, Op. 45, is an orchestral suite in three movements. Completed in 1940, it is Sergei Rachmaninoff's last composition. The work summarizes Rachmaninoff's compositional output....

.

Fluctuating reputation

His reputation as a composer generated a variety of opinions, before his music gained steady recognition across the world. The 1954 edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is an encyclopedic dictionary of music and musicians. Along with the German-language Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, it is the largest single reference work on Western music. The dictionary has gone through several editions since the 19th century...

notoriously dismissed Rachmaninoff's music as "monotonous in texture ... consist[ing] mainly of artificial and gushing tunes" and predicted that his popular success was "not likely to last". To this, Harold C. Schonberg
Harold C. Schonberg
Harold Charles Schonberg was an American music critic and journalist, most notably for The New York Times. He was the first music critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism...

, in his Lives of the Great Composers, responded, "It is one of the most outrageously snobbish and even stupid statements ever to be found in a work that is supposed to be an objective reference."

The Conservatoire Rachmaninoff
Conservatoire Rachmaninoff
The Conservatoire russe de Paris Serge Rachmaninoff is a professional music school in Paris, which conducts its courses in both French and Russian....

 in Paris, as well as streets in Veliky Novgorod
Veliky Novgorod
Veliky Novgorod is one of Russia's most historic cities and the administrative center of Novgorod Oblast. It is situated on the M10 federal highway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg. The city lies along the Volkhov River just below its outflow from Lake Ilmen...

 (which is close to his birthplace) and Tambov
Tambov
Tambov is a city and the administrative center of Tambov Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Tsna and Studenets Rivers southeast of Moscow...

, are named after the composer. In 1986, Moscow Conservatory
Moscow Conservatory
The Moscow Conservatory is a higher musical education institution in Moscow, and the second oldest conservatory in Russia after St. Petersburg Conservatory. Along with the St...

 dedicated a concert hall on its premises to Rachmaninoff, designating the 252-seat auditorium Rachmaninoff Hall. A monument to Rachmaninoff was unveiled in Veliky Novgorod, near his birthplace, as recently as 14 June 2009.

Technique

As a pianist, Rachmaninoff ranked among the finest pianists of his time, along with Leopold Godowsky
Leopold Godowsky
Leopold Godowsky was a famed Polish American pianist, composer, and teacher. One of the most highly regarded performers of his time, he became known for his theories concerning the application of relaxed weight and economy of motion in piano playing, principles later propagated by Godowsky's...

, Ignaz Friedman
Ignaz Friedman
Ignaz Friedman Ignaz Friedman Ignaz Friedman (also spelled by languages Ignace or Ignacy; exactly Solomon (Salomon) Isaac Freudman(n), (February 13, 1882January 26, 1948) was a Polish pianist and composer. Critics (e.g. Harold C. Schonberg) and colleagues (e.g...

, Moriz Rosenthal
Moriz Rosenthal
Moriz Rosenthal was a great Polish pianist. He was an outstanding pupil of Franz Liszt and a friend and colleague of some of the greatest musicians of his age, including Johannes Brahms, Johann Strauss, Anton Rubinstein, Hans von Bülow, Camille Saint-Saëns, Jules Massenet and Isaac...

 and Josef Hofmann, and perhaps one of the greatest pianists in the history of classical music. He was famed for possessing a flawless, clean and inhuman virtuoso piano technique. His playing was marked by precision, rhythmic drive, an exceptionally accurate staccato and the ability to maintain complete clarity when playing works with complex textures. Rachmaninoff applied these qualities to excellent effect in music by Chopin, especially the B flat minor Piano Sonata. Rachmaninoff's repertoire, excepting his own works, consisted mainly of standard 19th Century virtuoso works plus music by Bach, Beethoven, Borodin, Debussy, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.

Rhythmically, Rachmaninoff is considered one of the best Romantic performers. He never lost the basic metric pulse, yet he constantly varied it. Harold C. Schonberg
Harold C. Schonberg
Harold Charles Schonberg was an American music critic and journalist, most notably for The New York Times. He was the first music critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism...

 suggests the young Vladimir Horowitz
Vladimir Horowitz
Vladimir Samoylovich Horowitz    was a Russian-American classical virtuoso pianist and minor composer. His technique and use of tone color and the excitement of his playing were legendary. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.-Life and early...

 might have gotten this kind of rhythmic snap from Rachmaninoff. In addition, Rachmaninoff's playing had extreme musical elegance, with attention paid to the shape of the melodic line. His playing possessed a masculine, aristocratic kind of poetry. While never becoming sentimental, he managed to wring dry the emotional essence of the music. He did so through subtly nuanced phrasing within his strong, clear, unmannered projection of melodic lines.

Rachmaninoff possessed extremely large hands, with which he could easily maneuver through the most complex chordal configurations. His left hand technique was unusually powerful. His playing was marked by definition—where other pianists' playing became blurry-sounding from overuse of the pedal or deficiencies in finger technique, Rachmaninoff's textures were always crystal clear. Only Josef Hofmann shared this kind of clarity with him. Both men had Anton Rubinstein
Anton Rubinstein
Anton Grigorevich Rubinstein was a Russian-Jewish pianist, composer and conductor. As a pianist he was regarded as a rival of Franz Liszt, and he ranks amongst the great keyboard virtuosos...

 as a model for this kind of playing—Hofmann as a student of Rubinstein's and Rachmaninoff from hearing his famous series of historical recitals in Moscow while studying with Zverev.

The two pieces Rachmaninoff singled out for praise from Rubinstein's concerts became cornerstones for his own recital programs. The compositions were Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

's Appassionata
Piano Sonata No. 23 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 is a piano sonata. It is considered one of the three great piano sonatas of his middle period . It was composed during 1804 and 1805, and perhaps 1806, and was dedicated to Count Franz von Brunswick...

 and Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

's Funeral March Sonata. He may have based his interpretation of the Chopin sonata on Rubinstein's. Rachmaninoff biographer Barrie Martyn points out similarities between written accounts of Rubinstein's interpretation and Rachmaninoff's audio recording of the work.

As part of his daily warm-up exercises, Rachmaninoff would play the phenomenally difficult Étude in A flat, Op. 1, No. 2, attributed to Paul de Schlözer
Paul de Schlözer
Paul de Schlözer was an obscure Polish or Russian pianist and teacher of German descent. He was possibly also a composer, but the only two works attributed to him may have been written by Moritz Moszkowski....

.

Tone

From those barely moving fingers came an unforced, bronzelike sonority and an accuracy bordering on infallibility. Correct notes seemed to be built into his constitution, and a wrong note at a Rachmaninoff recital was an exceedingly rare event. Arthur Rubinstein wrote:

He had the secret of the golden, living tone which comes from the heart ... I was always under the spell of his glorious and inimitable tone which could make me forget my uneasiness about his too rapidly fleeting fingers and his exaggerated rubatos. There was always the irresistible sensuous charm, not unlike Kreisler
Fritz Kreisler
Friedrich "Fritz" Kreisler was an Austrian-born violinist and composer. One of the most famous violin masters of his or any other day, he was known for his sweet tone and expressive phrasing. Like many great violinists of his generation, he produced a characteristic sound which was immediately...

's.


Coupled to this tone was a vocal quality not unlike that attributed to Chopin
Frédéric Chopin
Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

's playing. With Rachmaninoff's extensive operatic experience, he was a great admirer of fine singing. As his records demonstrate, he possessed a tremendous ability to make a musical line sing, no matter how long the notes or how complex the supporting texture, with most of his interpretations taking on a narrative quality. With the stories he told at the keyboard came multiple voices—a polyphonic
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 dialogue, not the least in terms of dynamics. His 1940 recording of his transcription of the song "Daisies" captures this quality extremely well. On the recording, separate musical strands enter as if from various human voices in eloquent conversation. This ability came from an exceptional independence of fingers and hands.

Memory

Rachmaninoff also possessed an uncanny memory—one that would help put him in good stead when he had to learn the standard piano repertoire as a 45-year-old exile. He could hear a piece of music, even a symphony, then play it back the next day, the next year, or a decade after that. Siloti would give him a long and demanding piece to learn, such as Brahms' Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel
The Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24, is a work for solo piano written by Johannes Brahms in 1861. It consists of a set of twenty-five variations and a concluding fugue, all based on a theme from George Frideric Handel's Harpsichord Suite No...

. Two days later Rachmaninoff would play it "with complete artistic finish." Alexander Goldenweiser said, "Whatever composition was ever mentioned—piano, orchestral, operatic, or other—by a Classical or contemporary composer, if Rachmaninoff had at any time heard it, and most of all if he liked it, he played it as though it were a work he had studied thoroughly."

Interpretations

Regardless of the music, Rachmaninoff always planned his performances carefully. He based his interpretations on the theory that each piece of music has a "culminating point." Regardless of where that point was or at which dynamic within that piece, the performer had to know how to approach it with absolute calculation and precision; otherwise, the whole construction of the piece could crumble and the piece could become disjointed. This was a practice he learned from Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin was a Russian opera singer. The possessor of a large and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses and is often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.During the first phase...

, a staunch friend. Paradoxically, Rachmaninoff often sounded like he was improvising, though he actually was not. While his interpretations were mosaics of tiny details, when those mosaics came together in performance, they might, according to the tempo of the piece being played, fly past at great speed, giving the impression of instant thought.
One advantage Rachmaninoff had in this building process over most of his contemporaries was in approaching the pieces he played from the perspective of a composer rather than that of an interpreter. He believed "interpretation demands something of the creative instinct. If you are a composer, you have an affinity with other composers. You can make contact with their imaginations, knowing something of their problems and their ideals. You can give their works color. That is the most important thing for me in my interpretations, color. So you make music live. Without color it is dead." Nevertheless, Rachmaninoff also possessed a far better sense of structure than many of his contemporaries, such as Hofmann, or the majority of pianists from the previous generation, judging from their respective recordings.

A recording which showcases Rachmaninoff's approach is the Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

 Second Polonaise, recorded in 1925. Percy Grainger
Percy Grainger
George Percy Aldridge Grainger , known as Percy Grainger, was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist. In the course of a long and innovative career he played a prominent role in the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century. He also made many...

, who had been influenced by the composer and Liszt specialist Ferruccio Busoni
Ferruccio Busoni
Ferruccio Busoni was an Italian composer, pianist, editor, writer, piano and composition teacher, and conductor.-Biography:...

, had himself recorded the same piece a few years earlier. Rachmaninoff's performance is far more taut and concentrated than Grainger's. The Russian's drive and monumental conception bear a considerable difference to the Australian's more delicate perceptions. Grainger's textures are elaborate. Rachmaninoff shows the filigree as essential to the work's structure, not simply decorative.

Marfan syndrome

Along with his musical gifts, Rachmaninoff possessed physical gifts that may have placed him in good stead as a pianist. These gifts included exceptional height and extremely large hands with a gigantic finger stretch. This and Rachmaninoff's slender frame, long limbs, narrow head, prominent ears, and thin nose suggest that he may have had Marfan syndrome
Marfan syndrome
Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder of the connective tissue. People with Marfan's tend to be unusually tall, with long limbs and long, thin fingers....

, a hereditary disorder of the connective tissue
Connective tissue
"Connective tissue" is a fibrous tissue. It is one of the four traditional classes of tissues . Connective Tissue is found throughout the body.In fact the whole framework of the skeleton and the different specialized connective tissues from the crown of the head to the toes determine the form of...

. This syndrome would have accounted for several minor ailments he suffered all his life. These included back pain, arthritis, eye strain and bruising of the fingertips.

Recordings

Phonograph

Many of Rachmaninoff's recordings are acknowledged classics. Rachmaninoff recorded first for Edison Records
Edison Records
Edison Records was one of the earliest record labels which pioneered recorded sound and was an important player in the early recording industry.- Early phonographs before commercial mass produced records :...

 on their "Diamond Disc" records, since they claimed the best audio fidelity
High fidelity
High fidelity—or hi-fi—reproduction is a term used by home stereo listeners and home audio enthusiasts to refer to high-quality reproduction of sound or images, to distinguish it from the poorer quality sound produced by inexpensive audio equipment...

 in recording the piano at the time. Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial...

, who was quite deaf, did not care for Rachmaninoff's playing and referred to him as a "pounder" at their initial meeting. However, the staff at Edison's New York recording studio (led by company pianist Robert Gayler) asked Edison to reconsider his dismissive position, resulting in a limited contract for ten released sides. The Edison company took some care with its piano recordings but used an unusual make, the Lauter, made in Newark; Rachmaninoff recorded on a Lauter concert grand, one of the few the company made. Rachmaninoff believed his own performances to be variable in quality and requested that he be allowed to approve any recordings for commercial release. Edison agreed but still issued multiple takes, a common practice in the gramophone record
Gramophone record
A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph record , vinyl record , or colloquially, a record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove...

 industry at the time but especially prevalent at Edison, where strict company policy demanded three "perfect" takes of each selection in case of damage in manufacturing or wear to the metal masters; in practice, this meant to the staff that takes passed for issue were interchangeable, but it was also very wearing on artists who often had to record items repeatedly to produce three acceptable takes. Edison's staff and Rachmaninoff were pleased with the released discs and wanted to record more, but Thomas Edison refused to engage the pianist for further work, saying the ten sides were sufficient for label prestige purposes. Rachmaninoff then signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company
Victor Talking Machine Company
The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American corporation, the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. It was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey....

 in 1920 and with its successor, RCA Victor
RCA
RCA Corporation, founded as the Radio Corporation of America, was an American electronics company in existence from 1919 to 1986. The RCA trademark is currently owned by the French conglomerate Technicolor SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Technicolor...

. The company was pleased to comply with Rachmaninoff's restrictions, and proudly advertised him as one of their great recording artists. His recordings for Victor continued until 1942, when the American Federation of Musicians
American Federation of Musicians
The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada is a labor union of professional musicians in the United States and Canada...

 imposed a recording ban in the U.S.

Particularly renowned are his renditions of Schumann's Carnaval
Carnaval (Schumann)
Carnaval, Op. 9, is a work by Robert Schumann for piano solo, written in 1834-1835, and subtitled Scènes mignonnes sur quatre notes . It consists of a collection of short pieces representing masked revelers at Carnival, a festival before Lent...

and Chopin's Funeral March Sonata, along with many shorter pieces. He recorded all four of his piano concertos with the Philadelphia Orchestra
Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is a symphony orchestra based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. One of the "Big Five" American orchestras, it was founded in 1900...

, including two versions of the second concerto with Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Anthony Stokowski was a British-born, naturalised American orchestral conductor, well known for his free-hand performing style that spurned the traditional baton and for obtaining a characteristically sumptuous sound from many of the great orchestras he conducted.In America, Stokowski...

 conducting (an incomplete acoustical recording in 1924 and a complete electrical recording in 1929), and a world premiere recording of the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, soon after the first performance (1934) with the Philadelphians under Stokowski. The first, third, and fourth concertos were recorded with Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy
Eugene Ormandy was a Hungarian-born conductor and violinist.-Early life:Born Jenő Blau in Budapest, Hungary, Ormandy began studying violin at the Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music at the age of five...

 in 1939-41. Rachmaninoff also made three recordings conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
Philadelphia Orchestra
The Philadelphia Orchestra is a symphony orchestra based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States. One of the "Big Five" American orchestras, it was founded in 1900...

 in his own Third Symphony
Symphony No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)
Sergei Rachmaninoff composed his Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44 between 1935 and 1936. The Third Symphony is considered a transitional work in Rachmaninoff's output. In melodic outline and rhythm it is his most expressively Russian symphony, particularly in the dance rhythms of the finale...

, his symphonic poem Isle of the Dead
Isle of the Dead (Rachmaninoff)
Isle of the Dead, Op. 29, is a symphonic poem composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rachmaninoff was inspired by Arnold Böcklin's painting, Isle of the Dead, which he saw in Paris in 1907. He concluded the composition while staying in Dresden in 1908...

, and his orchestration of Vocalise
Vocalise (Rachmaninoff)
Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 is a song by Sergei Rachmaninoff, published in 1912 as the last of his Fourteen Songs, Op. 34. Written for voice with piano accompaniment, it contains no words, but is sung using any one vowel...

.

In an article for Gramophone, April 1931, Rachmaninoff defended an earlier stated view on the musical value of radio, about which he was sceptical: "the modern gramophone and modern methods of recording are musically superior to wireless transmission in every way".

Piano rolls

Rachmaninoff was also involved in various ways with music on piano rolls. Several manufacturers, and in particular the Aeolian Company, had published his compositions on perforated music rolls from about 1900 onwards. His sister-in-law, Sofia Satina, remembered him at the family estate at Ivanovka, pedalling gleefully through a set of rolls of his Second Piano Concerto, apparently acquired from a German source, most probably the Aeolian Company's Berlin subsidiary, the Choralion Company. Aeolian in London created a set of three rolls of this concerto in 1909, which remained in the catalogues of its various successors until the late 1970s.

From 1919 he made 35 piano rolls (12 of which were his own compositions), for the American Piano Company (Ampico)'s reproducing piano. According to the Ampico publicity department, he initially disbelieved that a roll of punched paper could provide an accurate record, so he was invited to listen to a proof copy of his first recording. After the performance, he was quoted as saying "Gentlemen — I, Sergei Rachmaninoff, have just heard myself play!" For demonstration purposes, he recorded the solo part of his Second Piano Concerto for Ampico, though only the second movement was used publicly and has survived. He continued to record until around 1929, though his last roll, the Chopin Scherzo in B-flat minor, was not published until October 1933.

As performer

As composer

Cultural references

  • Rachmaninoff was an honorary pallbearer
    Pallbearer
    A pall-bearer is one of several funeral participants who helps carry the casket of a deceased person from a religious or memorial service or viewing either directly to a cemetery or mausoleum, or to and from the hearse which carries the coffin....

     for the 1935 funeral of American contralto Sophie Braslau
    Sophie Braslau
    Sophie Braslau was a contralto prominent in United States opera, starting with her debut in New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1913 when she was just 21 years of age....

    .
  • Rachmaninoff's music is often quoted, especially themes from his second
    Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
    The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between the autumn of 1900 and April 1901. The second and third movements were first performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900...

     and third
    Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)
    The Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30, composed in 1909 by Sergei Rachmaninoff is famous for its technical and musical demands on the performer...

     piano concertos, and the eighteenth variation of the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
    Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
    The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A minor, Op. 43 is a concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It is written for solo piano and symphony orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto. The work was written at Villa Senar, according to the score, from July 3 to August 18, 1934...

    .
  • The soundtrack of the 1945 film Brief Encounter
    Brief Encounter
    Brief Encounter is a 1945 British film directed by David Lean about the conventions of British suburban life, centring on a housewife for whom real love brings unexpectedly violent emotions. The film stars Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carey...

    , directed by David Lean
    David Lean
    Sir David Lean CBE was an English film director, producer, screenwriter, and editor best remembered for big-screen epics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai , Lawrence of Arabia ,...

    , prominently features the second
    Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
    The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between the autumn of 1900 and April 1901. The second and third movements were first performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900...

     piano concerto played by Eileen Joyce
    Eileen Joyce
    Eileen Alannah Joyce CMG was an Australian pianist whose career spanned more than 30 years. She lived in England in her adult years....

    . The 1953 film The Story of Three Loves
    The Story of Three Loves
    The Story of Three Loves, also known as Equilibrium, is a 1953 romantic anthology film made by MGM. It consists of three stories, "The Jealous Lover", "Mademoiselle", and "Equilibrium". The film was produced by Sidney Franklin. "Mademoiselle" was directed by Vincente Minnelli, while Gottfried...

    , directed by Vincente Minnelli
    Vincente Minnelli
    Vincente Minnelli was an American stage director and film director, famous for directing such classic movie musicals as Meet Me in St. Louis, The Band Wagon, and An American in Paris. In addition to having directed some of the most famous and well-remembered musicals of his time, Minnelli made...

    , features the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Tom Ewell
    Tom Ewell
    Tom Ewell was an American actor.-Early life and career:Born Samuel Yewell Tompkins in Owensboro, Kentucky, where his family expected him to follow in their footsteps as lawyers or whiskey and tobacco dealers....

    's character in the comedy The Seven Year Itch
    The Seven Year Itch
    The Seven Year Itch is a 1955 American film based on a three-act play with the same name by George Axelrod. The film was co-written and directed by Billy Wilder, and starred Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell, reprising his Broadway role...

    believes a recording of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 is the key ingredient with which to seduce the character played by Marilyn Monroe
    Marilyn Monroe
    Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

    .
  • The song "I Think of You" from Frank Sinatra's
    Frank Sinatra
    Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

     album "Where Are You?" (1957) is based on lyrical second theme in E flat major from Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
    Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
    The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between the autumn of 1900 and April 1901. The second and third movements were first performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900...

    , I. Moderato.
  • In the motion picture Somewhere In Time
    Somewhere in Time (film)
    Somewhere in Time is a 1980 romantic science fiction film directed by Jeannot Szwarc. It is a film adaptation of the 1975 novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the screenplay...

    (1980) the character played by Christopher Reeve
    Christopher Reeve
    Christopher D'Olier Reeve was an American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, author and activist...

     uses the 18th variation of Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini to win the heart of the character played by Jane Seymour
    Jane Seymour (actress)
    Jane Seymour, OBE is an English actress best known for her performances in the James Bond film Live and Let Die , East of Eden , Onassis: The Richest Man in the World , and the American television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman...

    .
  • In the 1996 film Shine
    Shine (film)
    Shine is a 1996 Australian film based on the life of pianist David Helfgott, who suffered a mental breakdown and spent years in institutions. It stars Geoffrey Rush, Lynn Redgrave, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Noah Taylor, John Gielgud, Googie Withers, Justin Braine, Sonia Todd, Nicholas Bell, Chris...

    , which is based on a true story, the pianist David Helfgott
    David Helfgott
    David Helfgott is an Australian concert pianist. He is as well known for having schizoaffective disorder as he is for his piano playing. Helfgott's life inspired the Oscar-winning film Shine, in which he was played by Geoffrey Rush....

     is obsessed with Rachmaninoff. Helfgott, played by Geoffrey Rush
    Geoffrey Rush
    Geoffrey Roy Rush is an Australian actor and film producer. He is one of the few people who has won the "Triple Crown of Acting": an Academy Award, a Tony Award and an Emmy Award. He has won one Academy Award for acting , three British Academy Film Awards , two Golden Globe Awards and four Screen...

    , enters a piano competition, choosing to play the third
    Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rachmaninoff)
    The Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30, composed in 1909 by Sergei Rachmaninoff is famous for its technical and musical demands on the performer...

     piano concerto despite the warnings of a teacher that the piece may be too demanding. Helfgott completes the piece and suffers a nervous breakdown.
  • Eric Carmen
    Eric Carmen
    Eric Howard Carmen is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist.He scored numerous hit songs across the 1970s and 1980s, first as a member of the Raspberries , and then with his solo career, including hits such as "All By Myself", "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again", "She Did It",...

    's first two solo singles, "All by Myself
    All by Myself
    "All by Myself" is a power ballad written and performed by Eric Carmen in 1975.The verse is based on the second movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18...

    " and "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again
    Never Gonna Fall in Love Again
    "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again" is the title of a song co-written and recorded by American pop rock artist Eric Carmen. It was released as the second single from Carmen's self-titled debut solo album, the song peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June 1976, remaining in the Top 40...

    ", were based on melodies from Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2
    Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
    The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, is a concerto for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff between the autumn of 1900 and April 1901. The second and third movements were first performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900...

     and Symphony No. 2
    Symphony No. 2 (Rachmaninoff)
    Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 is a music piece by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, created in 1906–07. The premiere was conducted by the composer himself in St. Petersburg on 8 February 1908. Its duration is approximately 60 minutes when performed uncut; cut performances can be as...

    , respectively.
  • The influence of Sergei Rachmaninoff's work (specifically Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor and also Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor) can be heard in the songs "Space Dementia", "Blackout" and "Butterflies and Hurricanes" by Muse
    Muse (band)
    Muse are an English alternative rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, formed in 1994. The band consists of school friends Matthew Bellamy , Christopher Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard...

    . Matthew Bellamy
    Matthew Bellamy
    Matthew James Bellamy is an English musician, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the lead vocalist, lead guitarist, pianist, and main songwriter of the alternative rock band Muse.-Early life:...

     of Muse has cited Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Chopin as a source of inspiration.
  • In 2010, a newly discovered 290-kilometre-wide impact basin on Mercury
    Mercury (planet)
    Mercury is the innermost and smallest planet in the Solar System, orbiting the Sun once every 87.969 Earth days. The orbit of Mercury has the highest eccentricity of all the Solar System planets, and it has the smallest axial tilt. It completes three rotations about its axis for every two orbits...

     was named Rachmaninoff.

External links


Recordings

Rachmaninoff's own records (complete)

Free scores

Free scores by Sergei Rachmaninoff Free scores
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK