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Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff  (1873–1943): Russian pianist, conductor and composer

-The Rachmaninoffs were an aristocratic family. However Rachmaninoff’s father lost a lot of the familiy’s wealth due to negligence- Rachmaninoff will later have to go under periods of intense conducting and playing in order to have sufficient financial resources (thereby drastically reducing the time for his compositions). In 1882 Rachmaninoff’s parents separated. In 1883 Rachmaninoff’s sister (Sofia) died. In 1885 the other sister (Elena), an opera singer, died.
-In 1892 Rachmaninoff left the Moscow Conservatory

-After the disastrous symphony 1  premiere in 1897, he suffered for three years of depression, and as a result composed very little during the illness. The physician (and hypnotist)  Nikolai Dahl cured Rachmaninoff.

“My relations had told Dr. Dahl that he must at all costs cure me of my apathetic conditions and achieve such results that I would again begin to compose….I heard the same hypnotic formula repeated day after day while I lay half asleep in an armchair in Dr. Dahl’s study, ‘You will begin to write your concerto ….You will work with great facility …The concerto will be of excellent quality ….’ It was always the same, without interruption. Although it may sound incredible, this cure really helped me. Already at the beginning of the summer I began again to compose. The grew in bulk, and new musical ideas began to stir within me…. By the autumn I had finished two movements … I had regained belief in myself …..I felt that Dr. Dahl’s treatment had strengthened my nervous system to a miraculous degree. Out of gratitude I dedicated my Second Concerto to him.” [1] [Rachmaninoff, as a result, not only composed his piano concerto no.2 but also composed many other works]

-Rachmaninoiff left Russia after the Communist revolution. He then emigrated to the USA.

-His music was temporarily banned in the USSR after Rachmaninoff sent a letter (1931) to the New York Times criticising the Soviet regime. Soviet critics then dubbed Rachmaninoff’s music as representing the ‘decadent attitude’ of the bourgeoisie.

-Four pieces (1887)
-Three Nocturnes (1888)
-Mélodie on a Theme of Rachmaninoff (1890)
-Deus Meus (1890)
-Prince Rostislav (1891)
-Suite in D minor (1891)
-Prelude in F major (1892)
-Two pieces (1892)
-Morceaux de fantaisie (1892)
-Trio élégiaque No. 1 (1892)
-Aleko (1892)
-Suite No.1 (1893)
-O Mother of God Perpetually Praying (1893)
-Caprice Bohemien (1894)
-Morceaux de salon (1894)
-Six Morceaux (1894) [Russian theme, slava]
-String Quartet n.2 (1896)
-Six Choruses for Women’s or Children’s Voices (1896)
-No. 5 Adagio sostenuto in D-flat major from six moments musicaux (1896)
-Piano Concerto n.2 (1901)
-Cello Sonata (1901)
-Suite n.2 for two pianos (1901)
-The Miserly Knight (1904)
-Francesca da Rimini (1905)
-Symphony 2 (1908)
-13 preludes (1910) [N.5]
-Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (1910)
-Vocalise (1912)
-All night vigil (1915) [Glory to God in the Highest]
-Three Russian Songs (1927)
-Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini (1934)
-Symphony 3 (1936)

[1] ‘Rachmaninoff’s Recollections’ by Oskar von Riesemann- Routledge Revivals 2015

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