Sergei RachmaninovBorn 1 April 1873. Died 28 March 1943
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 Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff (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 Romantic repertoire.
Born into a musical family, Rachmaninoff took up the piano at age four. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1892 having already composed several piano and orchestral pieces. In 1897, following the negative 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. For the next sixteen years, Rachmaninoff conducted at the Bolshoi Theatre, relocated to Dresden, Germany, and toured the United States for the first time.
Following the Russian Revolution, Rachmaninoff and his family left Russia; in 1918, they settled in the United States, first in New York City. With his main source of income coming from piano and conducting performances, demanding tour schedules led to a reduction in his time for composition; between 1918 and 1943, he completed just six works, including Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Symphony No. 3, and Symphonic Dances. By 1942, his failing health led to his relocation to Beverly Hills, California. One month before his death from advanced melanoma, Rachmaninoff was granted American citizenship.
- Jamal Aliyev performs the sublime Vocalisehttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05j4vwl.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p05j4vwl.jpg2017-10-05T18:33:00.000ZBBC Music Introducing artist Jamal Aliyev performs Rachmaninov's Vocalise with Maria Tarasewicz, live in the In Tune studio on the 10th anniversary of BBC Music Introducing.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p05j4png
Jamal Aliyev performs the sublime Vocalise
- Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 1 in F sharp minor – excerpt (2017)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p057qjw4.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p057qjw4.jpg2017-09-02T09:45:00.000ZKirill Gerstein brings Russian authenticity to the stormy beauty of Rachmaninov’s youthful Piano Concerto No. 1.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p05dyxnz
Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 1 in F sharp minor – excerpt (2017)
- Welsh soprano Natalya embracing slavic melancholyhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p057mtcr.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p057mtcr.jpg2017-07-03T11:49:00.000ZWelsh soprano Natalya Romaniw sings Rachmaninov's 'How fair the spot'https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p057ms4t
Welsh soprano Natalya embracing slavic melancholy
- Proms interval talks: Sir Henry Wood and Rachmaninov's Third Symphonyhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p045tpxm.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p045tpxm.jpg2016-08-26T14:06:00.000ZBenjamin Pope finds Henry Wood's own copy of the score of Rachmaninov's Third Symphony.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p045ysr7
Proms interval talks: Sir Henry Wood and Rachmaninov's Third Symphony
- Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances (extract)https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03np2jh.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03np2jh.jpg2016-04-19T11:00:00.000ZPreview of music performed at the BBC Proms.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03np2kp
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances (extract)
- 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.https://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.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03nxgrj
Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (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 workshttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p034s5gl
- 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.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01zhq5r
Sergei Rachmaninov - The Late Romantic
- Sergei Rachmaninovhttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zkbpq.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01zkbpq.jpg2014-05-21T14:52:00.000ZDonald Macleod explores the life and work of Rachmaninov.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01zhnzv
- 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.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01zhmnh
Rachmaninov and Medtner (1873-1943 and 1880-1951)
Sergei Rachmaninov Tracks
Past BBC Events
Proms 2018: Prom 59: Relaxed Prom
Latest Sergei Rachmaninov News
Performances & Interviews from Similar Artists
Encore! Franz Schubert: Kupelwieser Waltz (Prom 60)
Encore! The Orchestra That Sings Brahms
Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 11 in D minor (Prom 55)
BBC Proms - Johannes Brahms: Symphony No 1 in C minor (Prom 55)
Franz Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3 in B flat major (Prom 55)
Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dance No. 1 in G minor (Prom 55)
BBC Proms - Franz Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody No. 1 in C sharp minor (Prom 55)
Colin Currie: the disturbing and beautiful musical landscape of Schubert
Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin
Schumann: Symphony No.4