Personalities | Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninov | Late Romantic | Classical

(Sâr’-ga Va-sil-ya’-vech Rakh-ma’-ne-nof) 1873–1943
Russian composer

Rachmaninov studied with Arensky and Taneyev in Moscow, graduating with the Great Gold Medal in 1892. The same year, he composed his famous Prelude in C sharp minor. In 1897, the premiere of his First Symphony had a hostile reception and he ceased composing for three years. However, he was able to complete his masterly Second Piano Concerto in 1901. By 1917 Rachmaninov had composed three piano concertos, two symphonies and several major piano works and songs. After the Revolution, he decided to move, first to Switzerland, then in 1935 to the US. There, alongside a legendary virtuoso concert career, he composed his Fourth Piano Concerto (1926), the dramatic Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (1934), the Third Symphony (1938) and Symphonic Dances (1940).

Though sometimes labelled ‘conservative’ for its Romanticism in a modern age, Rachmaninov’s music has won enduring recognition on account of its expressive breadth and melodic appeal, coloured with a Russian nostalgia. His piano works, the 24 preludes, Etudes-Tableaux, Moments Musicaux and concertos are influenced by the European Romantics Schumann, Chopin and Liszt, yet there is a noble individuality to the sweeping melodies, yearning ‘Russian’ harmony and exciting rhythms of his distinctive style.

Recommended Recording:
Piano Concertos Nos. 2 & 3, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Moscow PO (cond) Kyrill Kondrashin, LSO (cond) Anatole Fistoulari (Decca)

Introduction | Late Romantic | Classical
Personalities | Max Reger | Late Romantic | Classical


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