Sergey Rachmaninoff in his lifetime knew equal success as composer, performer, and conductor. From his youth until weeks before his death, his subtle and richly imaginative pianism thrilled and absorbed audiences, but it was for his compositions that he wanted above all to be remembered - a body of work that carried the lyricism of Tchaikovsky and the technical brilliance of Liszt into the twentieth century.
Born in 1873, Rachmaninoff graduated from the Moscow Conservatory both as a pianist and as a composer. He became world-famous at 19 with the composition of his Prelude in C sharp minor but then, discouraged by the failure of his First Symphony in 1897, he concentrated for a time on a virtuoso piano career. Later, finding some relief from depression through hypnotherapy, he began work on his Second Piano Concerto. It was to be the most celebrated example of its genre in this century.
Married in 1902 to his cousin Natalie Satina, Rachmaninoff pursued all three of his professions, living mainly in Russia; but after the revolution of 1917 he emigrated, never to return. From then on, he toured both Europe and the United States yearly as a pianist, while still finding time to compose such works as the eloquent Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Plagued by illness throughout his life, and renowned for his unsmiling reserve in public, Rachmaninoff was nevertheless known to friends and family as a warm, relaxed individual, a personality reflected in the affecting openness of his music.
Since the first edition of this acclaimed study of Rachmaninoff's life and work appeared in 1976, his music has become more widely known, not only the orchestral pieces but also the songs, solo piano music, and choral works. For this edition Geoffrey Norris has incorporated recent documentary and chronological findings and has spent time in research at Ivanovka, the estate deep in the Russian countryside where Rachmaninoff wrote much of his music.
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Conductor and composer
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Aleko Alexander Alexander Ziloti Alfred Swan All-night Vigil Anatoly Brandukov April Arensky August autumn bars Bells Bolshoy Theatre born Brandukov Capriccio cello Chopin choral completed composed composition conducted dated Dresden duet February final flat minor Fourth Concerto Francesca Francesca da Rimini G minor Goldenveyzer Gypsy Irina Ivanovka January later Leopold Stokowski libretto London lyrical March melody Miserly Knight Modest Tchaikovsky Monna Vanna Moscow Conservatory motif movement Nikolay November October opera orchestral Paris performance Philadelphia Orchestra Philharmonic pianist Piano Concerto piece played poem Prelude premiere Presman programme published Pushkin's Rach Rachmaninoff Reminiscences revised Rimsky-Korsakov Russian Musical S. V. Rakhmaninov Satins Scherzo score season Second Concerto second subject Second Symphony Senar September Sergey Shalyapin sharp minor Skryabin Sofiya Sonata songs spring St Petersburg summer Symphonic Dances Taneyev theme Third Concerto Third Symphony tour Variations Vasily Vasily Safonov violin writing wrote Z. A. Apetian Moscow Ziloti Zverev