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  • Chris Anderson

Composer Of The Month - Sergei Rachmaninoff

This month's composer is a Russian Composer known for his giant hands! He wrote piano music, film music, and orchestral works. He was a pianist and a conductor.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was born on April 1, 1873, in Semyonovo, Russia. He came from a noble family and started piano lessons with his mother at the age of four.

In 1885, Rachmaninoff's father lost the family's estate due to financial mismanagement, and the family moved to Saint Petersburg. There, Rachmaninoff studied piano and composition with Alexander Siloti, a former student of Franz Liszt.

In 1891, Rachmaninoff entered the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied piano with Nikolai Zverev and composition with Anton Arensky and Sergei Taneyev. In 1892, he premiered his Piano Concerto No. 1, which was not well received, leading to a period of depression and self-doubt for the young composer.

However, Rachmaninoff's fortunes changed with the premiere of his Piano Concerto No. 2 in 1901. The piece was an immediate success, establishing Rachmaninoff as one of Russia's foremost composers. He went on to compose several other important works, including his Symphony No. 2, the choral masterpiece All-Night Vigil, and his Piano Concerto No. 3.

Despite his success, Rachmaninoff faced several challenges in his personal life, including the death of his daughter, Tatiana, and the upheaval of the Russian Revolution. In 1917, he and his family fled to Finland, and then to the United States in 1918.

In the United States, Rachmaninoff continued to compose and perform, becoming known as one of the greatest pianists of his time. He settled in Beverly Hills, California, and became a U.S. citizen in 1943, just months before his death from cancer on March 28, 1943.

Rachmaninoff's music is known for its lush harmonies, soaring melodies, and virtuosic piano writing. His influence can be heard in the works of many later composers, including George Gershwin, Sergei Prokofiev, and Dmitri Shostakovich. Today, he is regarded as one of the most important composers of the 20th century, and his music continues to be celebrated and performed around the world.

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