Sergei Rachmaninov

Biography

Born: Apr 1, 1873; Russia   Died: Mar 28, 1943; USA   Period: 20th Century
Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninov, born in Semyonovo, Russia, on April 1, 1873, is today remembered as one of the most formidable pianists of all time and the last truly great composer in the Russian Romantic tradition. Rachmaninov came from a music-loving, land-owning family; young Sergey's mother fostered the boy's innate talent by giving him his first piano lessons. After a decline in the family fortunes, the Rachmaninovs moved to St. Petersburg, Read more where Sergei studied with Vladimir Delyansky at the Conservatory. As his star continued to rise, Sergei went to the Moscow Conservatory, where he received a sound musical training: piano lessons from the strict disciplinarian Nikolay Zverev and Alexander Siloti (Rachmaninov's cousin), counterpoint with Taneyev, and harmony with Arensky. During his time at the Conservatory, Rachmaninov boarded with Zverev, whose weekly musical Sundays provided the young musician the valuable opportunity to make important contacts and to hear a wide variety of music.
As Rachmaninov's conservatory studies continued, his burgeoning talent came into full flower; he received the personal encouragement of Tchaikovsky, and, a year after earning a degree in piano, took the Conservatory's gold medal in composition for his opera Aleko (1892). Early setbacks in his compositional career -- particularly, the dismal reception of his Symphony No. 1 (1895) -- led to an extended period of depression and self-doubt, which he overcame with the aid of hypnosis. With the resounding success of his Piano Concerto No. 2 (1900-1901), however, his lasting fame as a composer was assured. The first decade of the twentieth century proved a productive and happy one for Rachmaninov, who during that time produced such masterpieces as the Symphony No. 2 (1907), the tone poem Isle of the Dead (1907), and the Piano Concerto No. 3 (1909). On May 12, 1902, the composer married his cousin, Natalya Satina.
By the end of the decade, Rachmaninov had embarked on his first American tour, which cemented his fame and popularity in the United States. He continued to make his home in Russia but left permanently following the Revolution in 1917; he thereafter lived in Switzerland and the United States between extensive European and American tours. While his tours included conducting engagements (he was twice offered, and twice refused, leadership of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), it was his astounding pianistic abilities which won him his greatest glory. Rachmaninov was possessed of a keyboard technique marked by precision, clarity, and a singular legato sense. Indeed, the pianist's hands became the stuff of legend. He had an enormous span -- he could, with his left hand, play the chord C-E flat-G-C-G -- and his playing had a characteristic power, which pianists have described as "cosmic" and "overwhelming." He is, for example, credited with the uncanny ability to discern, and articulate profound, mysterious movements in a musical composition which usually remain undetected by the superficial perception of rhythmic structures.
Fortunately for posterity, Rachmaninov recorded much of his own music, including the four piano concerti and what is perhaps his most beloved work, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934). He became an American citizen a few weeks before his death in Beverly Hills, CA, on March 28, 1943. Read less
Rachmaninov: The Complete Works
Release Date: 09/23/2014   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002145102   Number of Discs: 32
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Rachmaninov: Complete Symphonies & Piano Concertos / Rudy, Jansons, 	St. Petersburg Philharmonic
Release Date: 09/02/2014   Label: Warner Classics  
Catalog: 627827   Number of Discs: 5
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Medtner: Sonata Romantica; Skazki; Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No. 2; Corelli Variations
Release Date: 09/09/2014   Label: Hyperion  
Catalog: 67936   Number of Discs: 1
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Rachmaninov: Corelli Variations, Piano Transcriptions / Olga Kern
Release Date: 05/11/2004   Label: Harmonia Mundi  
Catalog: 907336   Number of Discs: 1
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Stravinsky: Petrushka;  Rachmaninov / Jansons, Et Al
Release Date: 01/10/2006   Label: Rco Live  
Catalog: 5004   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Preludes (10) for Piano, Op. 23: no 5 in G minor, Alla marcia

Browse 101-109 of 109 Available Recordings
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  • 101.
    Favourite Rachmaninov / Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 436386 Release Date: 01/19/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Conductor:  André Previn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 102.
    Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No 2, Etc / John Browning
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3044 Release Date: 12/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
    Performer:  John Browning
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  • 103.
    Van Cliburn Collection - The World's Favorite Piano Music
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 60973 Release Date: 07/14/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Van Cliburn
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  • 104.
    Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No 1, Etc / Graffman, Szell
    Label: Cbs Great Performances   Catalog: 37263 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Gary Graffman
    Conductor:  George Szell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 105.
    Rachmaninov Plays Rachmaninov - Ampico Recordings (1919-29)
    Label: London/Decca Historic Series   Catalog: 425964 Release Date: 03/30/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Modest Mussorgsky,  Franz Schubert,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  ... 
    Performer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
    CD: $12.99
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  • 106.
    Horowitz Encores
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 7755 Release Date: 02/22/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Philip Sousa,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Franz Liszt,  Robert Schumann  ... 
    Performer:  Vladimir Horowitz
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  • 107.
    Label: Living Era   Catalog: 5215 Release Date: 01/21/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francis Poulenc,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Sir Edward Elgar
    Performer:  Vladimir Horowitz,  Dame Clara Butt
    Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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