Hello dear readers of our site. Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff is a brilliant Russian pianist, composer and conductor. He was the titan of early 20th century piano music and was known for creating intricate finger-breaking pieces as well as heartbreaking romantic music. All of his piano pieces are legendary.
And today we decided to introduce you more closely to this great Russian composer. In the article we have collected the most interesting facts from the life of Rachmaninoff.
Sergei Vasilievich was born in 1873 in the Novgorod province into a typical noble family. The male relatives (father and grandfather) also had musical abilities, but were more amateurs than professional musicians.
Rachmaninoff was first taught to play the piano by her mother, and later by a guest teacher. Seryozha was enrolled in the conservatory in St. Petersburg at the age of nine, but this did not work, as he often missed classes (although it is worth noting that he was quite talented and easily grasped everything already at such a young age). But training at the Moscow Conservatory, with its strict discipline and exhausting hours of study, immediately bore fruit. At the age of 19, Rachmaninov graduated from the conservatory with a gold medal in two classes at once: piano and composition.
He was on friendly terms with many famous people of his time: Savva Mamontov (a famous entrepreneur and philanthropist at one time), Fyodor Chaliapin (Russian opera singer), and others.
However, he often received critical remarks from representatives of the composer environment. So, the musicians from the “Mighty Handful” Caesar Antonovich Cui and Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov spoke negatively about his “First Symphony”, which greatly upset Rachmaninov. It even caused him a state of prolonged depression.
Even before the revolution, Sergei Rachmaninoff went on a world tour. He visited Italy, Germany, America and Canada. After the October Revolution of 1917, he received an offer to give concerts in Stockholm (Sweden). He uses this tour as an excuse to leave his country. The composer, his wife and two daughters left Russia in December 1917. They briefly stayed in Stockholm and Copenhagen, after which they moved to the United States of America. The Rachmaninov family never returned to their homeland.
It should be noted that he was very homesick for his native land. So he recreated Russia at his home in the United States by hiring Russian servants and celebrating Russian holidays.
He was quite an interesting person. Contemporaries spoke of him as a strict and disciplined person. Perhaps he was inherent in some hypochondria: in his youth he was afraid of getting sick with something and was often depressed. If something disrupted Rachmaninoff’s plans, then he immediately began to feel out of place.
He was attracted not only by the classical repertoire. He saw a special charm in church choir singing. Sometimes he specially came to the beginning of the service in the temple to listen to the performance of prayers.
He also really liked the gypsy songs, the composer could often be seen sitting up late at night in “Yar” or “Strelna”.
Rachmaninoff’s music was written during the years that fell on the so-called “Silver Age”. This period is characterized by symbolism. In the work of the composer, you can also read a huge number of symbols and mystical motives: from the medieval chorale Dies Irae to Christian subjects.
The work of Sergei Rachmaninoff is very heterogeneous. It can be divided into three periods, each of which is different from the other.
The early period is the search for your own unique style. It merged features of late romanticism (with a reference to the music of PI Tchaikovsky), and the best traditions of the “Mighty Handful”, and elements of church music, and even a gypsy song.
In the mature period, Rachmaninov as a musician is already heard more and more clearly. It has acquired its unique sound, in which Russian song style and European romanticism are intricately intertwined. Sergei Rachmaninoff is not afraid to experiment. He adds some elements of symbolism, impressionism, neoclassicism and other styles.
In the musical works of the late period, seemingly the most unexpected styles are again combined: the traditions of Russian music, jazz, pop music. At the same time, more and more philosophical reflections appear, sometimes going into very deep symbolism and mysticism.
He was married only once. His beloved was the daughter of a state councilor, Natalya Aleksandrovna Satina. She was also his cousin. In their marriage, two girls were born, Tanya and Ira.
Rachmaninoff’s life was not happy. He considered himself a composer, but could never devote himself entirely to composition. Moreover, despite the fact that some of his writings became internationally famous, most critics condemned them for being old-fashioned and reactionary. The composer felt that he was out of step with the times. He did not like to play, and his standards were so high that he was rarely satisfied with his playing.
He was known as one of the most gifted pianists of his time. This was in part due to the fact that he had gigantic hands, which makes some of his compositions especially difficult for musicians with normal hand sizes to play.
In addition to his big hands, he was also very tall – 198 cm. He was a serious person, which he almost never laughed. Igor Stravinsky even described it as “Six and a half feet of moroseness.”
He passed away in Beverly Hills, only three days before his seventieth birthday. He was nevertheless overtaken by a serious illness, which he feared so much in his youth. He was diagnosed with melanoma, which the composer did not suspect until the very last moment.
That’s all for us, dear readers. Thank you for choosing our website.