April 1, 1873 – March 28, 1943
Sergei Rachmaninoff was born into a family steeped in Russian military tradition. Initially Rachmaninoff was expected would follow in his father’s aristocratic footsteps and enroll in the army. However, his father’s fortune collapsed and he fled, leaving the family impoverished, and setting the stage for Rachmaninoff to purse a vocation in music.
Rachmaninoff was taught piano by his mother, and later studied in St. Petersburg’s conservatory. His talent did not go unnoticed, and it was arranged for Rachmaninoff to attend The Moscow Conservatory. He focused on piano and composition, graduating at 19 and lauded for his opera, Aleko. Encouraged by this, he released his first symphony, which was a disaster. The experience ended Rachmaninoff’s attempts for years, and he worked as a conductor instead.
Thankfully, Rachmaninoff resumed writing and produced his Piano Concerto #2, which became a sensation. He left Russia during the revolution, and worked and composed abroad, creating his most famous works then. He toured Europe, the US, before leaving Russia for good. His composing diminished as he moved to the US, where he died in 1943.
Rachmaninoff is known for his virtuosity at the piano, and in involving that instruments voice prominently amongst broader instrumentation. He was admired for his melodic skill.
Prelude in c sharp minor
Piano concerto #2