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Samuel Feinberg
The art of Rachmaninov
Mikhail Voskresensky
Vera Gornostaeva
Mikhail Utkin
Vladimir Sofronitsky
Victor Fedotov
Maxim Fedotov
Henry Neighaus

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CR-001. The art of Rachmaninov, v.6

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Weight: 120 g

Sergei Rachmaninov was born in 1873 in Semionovo, a family estate in the Novgorod district. Originally wealthy, the family was reduced to straitened circumstances by his fatherís extravagance. Oneg was sold to pay the debts, and the family moved to St. Petersburg; not long after that, Sergeiís parents separated.
Rachmaninovís musical talent manifested itself rather early. He was sent to St. Petersburg Conservatoire to study with professor Demyansky, who did not quite recognize his abilities. Sergei wasnít very keen on his studies; he failed many courses and the Conservatoire was considering expulsion.
In 1885, Sergeiís cousin Alexander Ziloti, a famous pianist and a pupil of Liszt, suggested sending him to the Moscow Conservatoire, to study with Nikolai Zverev, a noted pianist and a strict teacher, whose regimen required that the boyís piano practice should begin at 6 a.m. Living with Zverevís also gave Rachmaninov the opportunity to meet such important musicians as Anton Rubinstein and Peter Tchaikovsky.
In 1888 Rachmaninov started taking composition lessons with Sergei Taneyev and Anton Arensky; his piano professor in the senior division of the Conser-vatoire was Alexander Ziloti. He graduated in 1891 (piano) - 1892 (composition) and was awarded the Great Gold medal; his opera Aleko, written for the final examination, was performed at the Bolshoi Theater in 1893. Among the compositions of this early period were the First piano concerto, Trio Elegiaque No. 1, Phantasie pieces op.3. In 1893, in a very short period of two months, he wrote Trio Elegiaque No. 2 to commemorate Tchaikovskyís death. Tchaikovsky had a large and helpful influence in his life.
In 1897, the premiere of his First Symphony was a disaster, because of the inadequacies of Alexander Glazunovís conducting, and Rachmaninov fell into a deep depression; for three years after the incident, he composed almost nothing.
In autumn 1897, he took a post of a conductor at the Moscow Private Opera Company. His conducting activities were very successful; he also made a loyal friend, the great Feodor Schalyapin, a singer at the Private Opera.
During this period, Rachmaninov consulted Nikolai Dahl, the pioneer Moscow hypnotherapist. He restored Rachmaninovís self confidence and enabled him to write the Second piano concerto (completed in 1901), which was performed with a great success.
The next sixteen years were the happiest and most productive in his life. He composed the Cello sonata (1901), Preludes op.23 (1902), two operas (The Miserly Knight, Francesca da Rimini, both 1904), many romances. He also continued to give concerts as a pianist and conductor. In 1904-06, he conducted at the Bolshoi Theater. Among the works written after 1906 were his Second Symphony (1907), the symphonic poem Isle of the Dead, Third piano concerto (both 1909), Preludes op.32 (1910) and two sets of Etudes-tableaux (op.33, 1911; op.39, 1917).
In 1917, Rachmaninov with his family left Russia for Scandinavia. In 1918 they arrived in New York. Since then, he mainly stayed in USA, though he spent periods in France and Switzerland. He abandoned composition for many years because of the aching nostalgia he felt for Russia; he missed his homeland and the Russian people - the sounding board for his music, as he said.
During this period, he was very active as a pianist, giving lots of concerts on both sides of Atlantic.
Rachmaninov returned to composition in 1926, finishing his Fourth piano concerto. In 1931, he wrote Variations on the theme by Corelli; it was followed by Rhapsody on the theme by Paganini (1934), the Third Symphony (1935-36), and Symphonic Dances (1940).
A reserved man, who lived rather an isolated life, he was always compassionate and ready to help. After 1917, he sent money and food to thousands of people in Russia (most of them he did not know personally), as well as those who lived in emigration. When the Second World war began, he played for the benefit of the Soviet soldiers. But he never spoke about it himself.
Rachmaninov died in his home in , California, in 1943.

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