Listen to programmes examining the life and works of Sergei Rachmaninov.
Listen now 20 mins
Written in Dresden, where he'd gone to escape the heavy demands of his conducting career, Rachmaninov's second foray into symphonic form, proved much easier than the disaster he'd experienced with his first symphony some nine years earlier. Reception to that had left him seeking psychotherapy and unable to compose.
By 1906 though, when he began work on the Second Symphony, the table had been fully reversed. He was happily married and had established himself as a successful conductor and composer. Stephen Johnson explores a work which reveals Rachmaninov fully in command of the form, at the height of his expressive powers.