Sergei Rachmaninov Biography (BBC)
Rachmaninov was born into a family of Russian landowners in financial decline and his parents separated when he was still at school. Despite this, family connections were important: he married a cousin, and another cousin, the pianist Alexander Siloti, taught him at the Moscow Conservatory. There, his studies were supervised by a musical ‘godfather’, Nikolay Zverev, with whom he also lodged. But Zverev wanted Rachmaninov to be a pianist and threw him out of the house when he persisted with composition. Rachmaninov got his revenge when his one-act opera Aleko (1892) won the highest possible marks in his final exam. This led to a publishing contract and a premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre.
Meanwhile, Rachmaninov had written his Prelude in C sharp minor, whose popularity was to hound him in later life. He began his First Symphony in 1895, the disastrous premiere of which in 1897 led to a creative block of almost three years. Rachmaninov was no mean conductor himself and, when he found it almost impossible to compose, he launched what was virtually a third career – conducting opera. Though he recovered from the crisis in creative self-confidence with the help of Dr Nikolay Dahl, he always doubted the worth of his music, which he often revised with substantial cuts.
In 1906, shortly after the first signs of political unrest in Russia, Rachmaninov and his family left for Dresden, where he wrote his Second Symphony and First Piano Sonata. For his first tour of America as a pianist he composed his Third Piano Concerto (1909). His earnings enabled him to buy a car, and in the same year his uncle made over to him the country estate of Ivanovka. But Rachmaninov’s world was to be shattered by the Revolution of 1917, although the composer attempted to recreate it in the USA by buying a house there, giving it the same name as his Russian estate and filling it with Russian friends.
Considered one of the greatest pianists of his time, Rachmaninov was never poor. But his luxurious lifestyle depended on exhausting concert tours and took him away from composing. Arguably, his exile from Russia, as well as radical changes in the arts, made his type of epic Romanticism impossible to sustain. Yet he didn’t remain altogether aloof from contemporary musical developments, for his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934) does have, as well as tender passages, a lean and biting quality, characteristics also present in the Symphonic Dances of 1940.
Profile by Adrian Jack © BBC
Sergei Rachmaninov Biography (Wikipedia)
Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (Russian: Серге́й Васи́льевич Рахма́нинов, Sergéj Vasíl'evič Rahmáninov;; 1 April [O.S. 20 March] 1873 – 28 March 1943) was a Russian pianist, composer, and conductor of the late-Romantic period, some of whose works are among the most popular in the classical repertoire. He is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century.
Born into a musical family, Rachmaninoff took up the piano at age four. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1892 and had composed several piano and orchestral pieces by this time. In 1897, following the critical reaction to his Symphony No. 1, Rachmaninoff entered a four-year depression and composed little until successful therapy allowed him to complete his enthusiastically received Piano Concerto No. 2 in 1901. After the Russian Revolution, Rachmaninoff and his family left Russia and resided in the United States, first in New York City. Demanding piano concert tour schedules caused his output as composer to slow tremendously; between 1918 and 1943, he completed just six compositions, including Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Symphony No. 3, and Symphonic Dances. In 1942, Rachmaninoff moved to Beverly Hills, California. He acquired U.S. citizenship a month before his death from advanced melanoma.
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Proms interval talks: Sir Henry Wood and Rachmaninov's Third Symphony
- Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3 in A minor (extract)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03np374.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03np374.jpg2016-04-19T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Proms.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03np39p
Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3 in A minor (extract)
- Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (extract)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nxfyw.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03nxfyw.jpg2016-04-19T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Proms.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03nxgrj
Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (extract)
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Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances (extract)
- Rachmaninovhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p033rvtp.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p033rvtp.jpg2015-10-09T12:00:00.000ZProfiling Rachmaninov the pianist-composer, focusing on his concertante piano workshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p034s5gl
- Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No.2, Op.36https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p031xh4y.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p031xh4y.jpg2015-09-08T11:42:00.000ZWith Yunqing Zhou (piano). Leeds International Piano Competition 2015, semi-final. Recorded 6 September 2015.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p031xykc
Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No.2, Op.36
- Sergei Rachmaninov - The Late Romantichttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zhq5l.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zhq5l.jpg2014-05-21T15:14:00.000ZThe life of the Russian composer, a late champion of the Romantic style.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01zhq5r
Sergei Rachmaninov - The Late Romantic
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- Rachmaninov and Medtner (1873-1943 and 1880-1951)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zhmn8.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zhmn8.jpg2014-05-21T14:25:00.000ZFor the BBC's piano season, Donald Macleod explores the intersections between the lives of Rachmaninov and Medtner.http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01zhmnh
Rachmaninov and Medtner (1873-1943 and 1880-1951)
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