Composer, pianist and Russian orchestra conductor. He was one of the finest pianists of his time, and, as a composer, the last great representative of Russian late romanticism. Son of a captain of the Imperial Guard and a descendant of a noble family at age 9 began his studies in piano at the Conservatory of St. Petersburg. Three years later he was accepted at the Moscow Conservatory by Zverev. Along with other two gifted students, he was for four years at House of Zverev, where rigorous discipline and supervised practice resulted in an outstanding technical progress. The desire to follow Rachmaninov composition studies, at the same time that of piano, led him to the estrangement of his teacher. After leaving this, from 1888 was a pupil of Siloti (piano), Taneiev (counterpoint and Fugue) and Arensky (composition) at the Conservatory of Moscow, completing his studies in 1892. Being still a student, he wrote pieces for piano opus 3, to which belongs the famous prelude in c-sharp minor, and his opera in an act Aleko, which earned him the gold medal and who was represented with great success at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1893. The influence of Taneiev and Arensky is accused in these first compositions.
From 1893 he was Professor of piano at the Moscow María school, activity that left to devote himself to his career of the piano virtuoso. In this period he composed his first Symphony (1895); the disastrous premiere of this work under the direction of Glazunov in 1897, provoked criticism of Cui, and Petersburgo press and marked the musician for several years. As a result did not compose until 1900. However, during those years he reappeared as director of opera to become a friend of Chaliapin, which subsequently worked on tours of recitals. Together they visited Italy and there Rachmaninov began composing what would become one of their most popular masterpieces: the second piano concerto, which a jury composed by Rimsky-Korsakov, Liadov and Glazunov, awarded a prize in 1904. He married his cousin Natalia Satin and was director of the Opera Orchestra private S. I. Mamomotov in Moscow (1897-1898) and the Bolshoi Theatre (1904-1906). Earlier, in 1898 he was invited by the Philharmonic Society of London to conduct his Orchestra.
1906, the political and social events of Russia pushed the musician to seek asylum in Germany, where he dedicated himself to composition, in particular opera Monna Vanna (unfinished) and the second Symphony (1907), which subsequently won the first prize in the Glinka competition. He later lived for some time in Russia and Germany, while she made concert tours, as conductor and pianist, by Western Europe, England, United States of America. He left definitely his country in 1917 after the October revolution, to live for a while in Scandinavia. Subsequently, he lived in Paris, Switzerland and, finally, in the United States of America, which was established in 1935 dedicated above all to his career as performer until he died in Berverly Hill (California), on March 28, 1943. His music was forbidden between 1931 and 1935 by the Soviet authorities as a result of criticisms to the Soviet regime which made Rachmaninov.
His works include, besides those already mentioned, the opera Francesca da Rimini (1904); the cantatas La Primavera (1902), San Juan Crisóstomo (1910) of liturgy and a mass of Eve (1915); Three Russian folk songs (1926) for choir and Orchestra; four concertos for piano (1891-1942), and the Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini (1934) for piano and Orchestra. His works for piano with the Orchestra competition represent the end in the romantic concert cycle whose line had kept Schmann, Grieg, Liszt and Tolstoi. Influenced by the latter, Rachmaninov introduced the romantic eloquence in a melodic approach to brilliant nationalist colouring.
Rachmaninov was a fertile composer that are little known his minor works, aside from the aforementioned prelude in c-sharp minor. Among other many creations, they deserve mention (1892) elegiac Trio for violin, cello and piano; Quintet for piano and other piano Trio; several pieces for violin and piano, for cello and piano, for solo piano, two Sonatas (1907 and 1913), variations on themes by Chopin (1902-1903) and Corelli (1932), and four works for piano four hands. In addition, he composed a seventy-seven lieder. In the Symphonic genre, as well as their two fantasies, it created among other works the symphonic poem based on the Isle of the dead (1909) Boecklin scene.
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