Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff, great Russian pianist and composer, was born in Oneg, district of Novgorod, on April 1, 1873. Rachmaninoff's musical talents were discovered early, as both his grandfather and father were amateur pianists. His parents took him to St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1882, where he studied until 1885 under Demiansky. He then went to the Moscow Conservatory to study with Zverev, where he remained until his graduation as a pianist in 1891. While in Moscow, he chanced to meet Tchaikovsky, who showed interest in the young composer's talent.

He also wrote, at the age of 19, his famous Prelude in c-sharp minor. In 1902, Rachmaninoff married his cousin Natalie Satina, and they lived for several months in Switzerland. He then returned to Russia to conduct the Bolshoi Theater for the seasons of 1904 to 1906. He moved to Dresden in 1906, working there in the winters and spending his summers in Russia. In 1909, he toured the U.S. for the first time. From 1910 to 1917, he conducted the Philharmonic Society Orchestra in Moscow, but left Russia after the Revolution in 1917. After the Revolution, Rachmaninoff lived in Switzerland. In 1935, he moved to New York, then to Los Angeles, which became his permanent home. A few weeks before his death on March 28, 1943, Rachmaninoff became an American citizen.

Rachmaninoff's music was inspired by the Romantic Russian music of the Nineteenth Century. It was often melancholic, dwelling largely in minor keys, with broad melodies and resonant harmonies.

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