Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Donald Macleod focuses on Rachmaninov's teenage crush, the positive reception from Tchaikovsky for his first orchestral piece and then the disastrous premiere of his First Symphony.

In this week's edition of Composer of the Week, Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Sergei Rachmaninov. People outside of the composer's immediate circle were apt to find him somewhat morose, but he had plenty to be morose about. He was born into a land-owning aristocratic family at precisely the wrong moment in Russian history. He lived and worked through the turbulent years of the early twentieth century, culminating, in 1917, in the abdication of the Tsar, the October Revolution and the rise of the Bolsheviks - Rachmaninov's cue to leave Russia, with his wife and two daughters, a couple of suitcases and what little cash he had been able to lay his hands on.

For the remaining twenty-five years of his life he pursued an extraordinarily successful career as an international concert pianist and recording artist, fêted as one of the leading virtuosos of his or any other day. But despite this he continued to regard himself as a refugee from the homeland he would never again set foot in.

Monday's programme is set in less troubled times, eavesdropping on the teenage composer in love; the 20-year-old winning recognition from no less than Tchaikovsky for his first orchestral piece; and then, just a few years later, the disastrous première of his 1st Symphony, conducted by an inebriated Glazunov and dubbed fit 'for the inmates of Hell' by the bile-filled pen of César Cui.

1 hour

Last on

Mon 4 Apr 2011 22:00

More episodes

Previous

You are at the first episode

See all episodes from Composer of the Week

Music Played

  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Valse, for piano 6 hands (1890)

    Performer: Ingryd Thorson & Julian Thurber with David Gardiner

    • Paula PACD 46 Dbl..
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Romance, for piano 6 hands (1891)

    Performer: Ingryd Thorson & Julian Thurber with David Gardiner

    • Paula PACD 46 Dbl.,.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    'The Rock', symphonic poem op.7 (1893)

    Performer: Russian National Orchestra / Mikhail Pletnev (cond)

    • DG 439 888-2,.
    • 5.
  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Trio élégiaque no.2 in d minor, op.9 (1893, rev. 1907, 1917) – finale

    Performer: Beaux Arts Trio (Menahem Pressler, pno; Isidore Cohen, vl; Bernard Greenhouse, vc)

  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Symphony no.1 in d minor, op.13 (1895) – mvts 3 and 4

    Performer: London Symphony Orchestra / André Previn (cond)

    • EMI 7 64530 2,.

Broadcasts

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.