Sergei Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff, Sergei Vasilyevich

Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff (syĬrgā´ vəsē´lyĬvĬch räkhmä´nēnôf), 1873–1943, Russian pianist, composer, and conductor. He became known as one of the greatest pianists of his generation, and he was also successful as a conductor and composer. From 1885 to 1892 he studied at the Moscow Conservatory, after which he began his career as a concert pianist. In Moscow he was conductor of the Imperial Opera (1905–6) and of the Philharmonic concerts (1911–13); he twice refused permanent conductorship of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1917 he left Russia and never returned. After living in Switzerland until 1935, he immigrated to the United States and became a U.S. citizen shortly before his death.

As a composer he was strongly influenced by his friend Tchaikovsky. Rachmaninoff's music, particularly his piano compositions, are characterized by their dark and massive chords, whose dramatic effects and strong melodic lines have made them enormously popular. His best-known works are the second (1901) of his four piano concertos, and the Prelude in C Sharp Minor (1892), for piano. Other compositions include Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934), for piano and orchestra; an orchestral tone poem, The Isle of the Dead (1909); The Bells (1913), for chorus and orchestra; three symphonies; two sacred choral works, Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (1910) and Vespers (1915); and many piano pieces and songs.

See his Recollections (tr. 1934); biographies by J. Culshaw (1950), V. I. Seroff (1950), S. Bertensson and J. Leyda (1956), and G. Norris (1976).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Victor Book of Concertos
Abraham Veinus.
Simon and Schuster, 1948
Librarian’s tip: "Sergei Rachmaninoff" begins on p. 341
The Symphony: A Listener's Guide
Michael Steinberg.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Sergei Rachmaninoff" begins on p. 443
The New Guide to Recorded Music
Irving Kolodin.
Doubleday, 1950
Librarian’s tip: "Rachmaninoff, Sergei: Concertos for Piano and Orchestra" begins on p. 322
Music after Modernism
Samuel Lipman.
Basic Books, 1979
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "And Still Rachmaninoff"
Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations
David Ewen; David Ewen.
H. W. Wilson, 1934
Librarian’s tip: "Serge Rachmaninoff" begins on p. 202
Sergey Rachmaninoff: Memories
Clinch, Dermot.
New Statesman (1996), Vol. 128, No. 4435, May 10, 1999
Plays of the Moscow Art Theatre Musical Studio ..
George S.; Gilbert Seldes.
Brentano's, 1925
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of Sergi Rachmaninoff in the Introduction
Singer's Repertoire
Berton Coffin; Werner Singer.
Scarecrow Press, vol.5, 1960 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Rrachmaninoff" begins on p. 107
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