Sergey Rachmaninoff

One of the most fascinating Russian musicians of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, SERGEI RACHMANINOFF has made his talent equally known within each of the spheres of his creative involvement – as composer, pianist and conductor. Having demonstrated from an early age his extraordinary potential, he graduated at the  age  of  nineteen  with a gold medal from the Moscow Conservatoire as a pianist and composer and went on immediately to become a piano instructor at the Mariinskaya School in Moscow, rising four years later to the position of conductor at Savva Mamontov’s Moscow Private Russian Opera Company. This period saw the creation of his first opera Aleko (a graduation work based on Pushkin‘s narrative poem Gypsies), the First piano concerto, romances, chamber opuses, the famous Prelude in C-sharp Minor, which earned him worldwide reputation. But the unsuccessful premieres of his First Symphony and the First Concerto for Piano resulted in his lapsing into a serious breakdown, from which he was successfully extricated by psychiatrist and amateur musician Dr. Nikolai Dahl. Rachmaninoff resumed composing, and was for two seasons the conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre, travelled around Italy and subsequently spent three years in Dresden, dedicating himself exclusively to the creation of music. In 1909 Rachmaninoff embarked on a major concert tour in the USA as a pianist and conductor, and after 1917 he settled permanently there. His intensive guest performances in major music centres of Europe and America quickly established his reputation as one of the greatest pianists of the time and a talented conductor. All his works in various genres became popular and won a place in the performing repertoire: the four piano concertos, the three symphonies, the Symphonic Dances, the symphonic poems The Island of the Dead and The Bells, The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, All-Night Vigil among others. But the creative talent of Rachmaninoff found its most consummate and adequate expression in his piano pieces – the four concertos, preludes, etudes- tableaux, musical moments, sonatas.

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