Sergei Rachmaninoff - Outstanding Composer and Musician

Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor. He lived between 1873 and 1943, and in that time he composed many true Russian masterpieces. A brilliant pianist, Rachmaninoff is regarded as one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century. Though he chose to write his name as Rachmaninoff, popular alternate spellings include Rachmaninov and Rakhmaninoff. Rachmaninoff is generally thought of as having amazing rhythmic drive and technical faculties.

When Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff started playing piano under the guidance of his mother, who was herself an amateur pianist, his parents did not notice any outstanding ability. Yet, while still a young boy, Rachmaninoff had begun to show outstanding ability as a composer – despite a fairly lax attitude to work. At about the age of 19 he wrote a one-act opera called ‘Aleko’ which began his catapult to fame. Before long he was attempting to produce more works, but he did suffer a few initial setbacks in the form of critical reviews and depression. In 1909, he decided to tour the United States where he was very successful and was soon seen as a popular public figure. He returned home to the outset of the Russian Revolution and before long, decided to leave his homeland for good. Accompanied by his wife and two daughters, Rachmaninoff moved from place to place until he eventually decided to settle in America. The move proved to be difficult for Rachmaninoff who struggled with home-sickness, but he still managed to support himself and his family with his musical talents. Interestingly enough, it was during this period that he began making recordings of his music for Thomas Edison on an upright piano which lead to him signing a ‘record deal’. He produced few works while living in America and was incredibly melancholy. In 1942 he was diagnosed with advanced melanoma and he died in 1943 in Beverly Hills, California, at age 69.

Part of Rachmaninoff’s amazing ability to cover a keyboard sprang from his immense size. He stood 6 feet, 6 inches (1.98 m) tall and his handspan measured roughly twelve inches, which meant he could cover the interval of a thirteenth on the keyboard. He also had a good ear for music and could play complex compositions after hearing them only once. He was better known as an excellent pianist than as a composer, though he excelled as both but received much criticism for his compositions. Today it is hard to imagine the world without his stirring compositions and grainy recordings. He loved his homeland to the last and is truly one of the country’s greatest musicians.


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