Magazine article American Music Teacher

Rachmaninoff's Complete Songs: A Companion with Texts and Translations

Magazine article American Music Teacher

Rachmaninoff's Complete Songs: A Companion with Texts and Translations

Article excerpt

* Rachmaninoff's Complete Songs: A Companion with Texts and Translations, by Richard D. Sylvester. Indiana University Press, 2014. www.iupress.indiana.edu; 304 pp., $55.00.

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In Rachmaninoff's Complete Songs: A Companion with Texts and Translations, Richard Sylvester offers an impressive, thoughtful and thoroughly researched guide to the complete songs of Sergei Rachmaninoff. Not only does his book serve as a reference for specific information on each of the 83 songs, but it also reads as a narrative, skillfully tracing the life and career of the great composer.

The book most notably presents complete translations of all songs written by Rachmaninoff. The original Russian texts are provided in their entirety, followed by transcriptions of the Russian words into the Latin alphabet (for readability) and a line-by-line translation into English. These translations are presumably the most accurate and up-to-date, correcting a number of apparent errors found in earlier compilations.

In terms of format, the book begins with a chapter devoted to Rachmaninoff's early years, setting the stage for the many relationships, living situations, and career successes and failures that would influence the writing of not only his songs, but his other works as well. This broader narrative continues throughout the book, taking the form of extended introductions to each of the published sets. These introductions are rich with information and structurally useful as they fill in the often multi-year gaps between opuses. …

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