April 1, 1873 – March 28, 1943
On this day in Northwestern Russia, in Semyonov, one of the greatest composers and pianists of the 20th century was born– Sergei Rachmaninoff.He’s been described as a very serious, strict, tall man, with perfect calm perfection, especially emphasizing his long fingers, a large fist that could cover 13 intervals on the keyboard.It is not surprising, therefore, that there are many large ranges in his works, which require good technical dexterity.Rachmaninoff ‘s compositional opus is very significant;he wrote four piano concertos, two piano sonatas, 24 preludes, three operas and symphonies, several choral spiritual works, the Rhapsody on the Theme of Paganini, compositions for chamber ensembles.He performed and studied his works both as a pianist and as a composer, trying to emphasize their emotional structure, to turn his ideas into delicate, powerful and impressive melodies.That is why he always said that the culmination point should be found in every part, as he called the point.He was mostly active as a conductor and composer, and in 1904 he received an offer to conduct at the Bolshoi Theater, but due to the political situation he was soon forced to leave Russia and, after a short stay in Italy and Germany, emigrated with his family to the United States.This left a deep and indelible mark on him and he longed for his homeland all his life, to the extent that he was no longer able to compose.In order to feed his family, he started building a pianist career at the age of 45.His playing was described as very clear, precise, with a carefully sculpted melodic line, with extremely careful use of pedals.In his compositional work, he was mostly influenced by two great romantic names – Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt, and later he found a role model and inspiration in the works of Peter Tchaikovsky.From his opus, the most famous are the Prelude in C-sharp minor, as well as the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, which contains an enchanting melody, measured and timeless.For pianists, his piano concertos represent a special place in the repertoire because they require exceptional pianistic maturity and technical readiness;they exude noble Russian melodies which, with perfect orchestration, provide the listeners with unobtrusive poetics and quality sound content.Also, the Six moments musicaux Op. 16, Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 31, the All-Night Vigil Op. 37, Trio élégiaque Op. 9, Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 19, can often be heard on stages all around the world.
Sergei Rachmaninoff, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Author: Katarina Georgijević
Translation: Jelena Čolović