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More about Sergei Rachmaninoff
As one of the most widely known and best loved concert composers of all time, Sergei Rachmaninoff captured early 20th century audiences with his lush harmonies, rippling textures and ferocious piano writing. Born a Russian in 1873, Rachmaninoff was initially influenced by the heavyweight composers of his home country: Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Balakirev. However, following the Russian Revolution and his consequential departure to the United States, his music began to take on a more distinctive, personal quality and developed the so-called Late-Romantic idioms he is associated with. Rachmaninoff was to be granted American citizenship one month before his death in Beverly Hills, 1943.
Rachmaninoff is renowned for his challenging piano works; the result of his own virtuosity. He was also steeped in the Russian piano tradition, becoming friends with Alexander Scriabin during their time at the Moscow Conservatory, holding Arthur Rubinstein as an idol, and later acquainting Vladimir Horowitz. He had a prolific career in the US both as a performer and conductor which included working alongside the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Symphony Orchestra and Gustav Mahler.
“Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” and his four Piano Concertos stand as the great pillars of his achievements. Written after a three year battle with depression, his “Piano Concerto No. 2” is particularly notable, brought into the public interest with its inclusion in the 1945 film, “Brief Encounter”. It has since been quoted in music by Frank Sinatra, in Muse’s “Space Dementia” and Eric Carmen’s “All by myself”. The work often features near the top of Classic FM’s Hall of Fame.
The Boosey & Hawkes editions of the Piano Concertos are available to practice or peruse on nkoda as well as the iconic preludes.
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