SERGEI RACHMANINOV 1873-1943
Sergey Vasilyevich Rakhmaninov (1873-1943) was a Russian composer, virtuosopianist and conductor of the late Romantic period, some of whose works are among the most popular in the Romantic repertoire.Rakhmaninov combined Russian musical traditions with modern west European trends in his music which created a unique style. This style had a strong impact on the world music.
In Rachmaninoff’s work, early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, Mussorgsky, and other Russian composers gave way to a personal style notable for its song-like melodicism, expressiveness and rich orchestral colors.Rachmaninoff often featured the piano in his compositions, and he explored the expressive possibilities of the instrument through his own skills as a pianist. Especially important is Rachmaninoff’s use of unusually widely spaced chords for bell-like sounds: this occurs in many pieces, most notably in the choral symphony The Bells, the Second Piano Concerto.
Tchaikovsky predicted him a «great future». Rakhmaninov wrote the Aleko, a one-act opera based on the narrative poem The Gypsies by Alexander Pushkin. Tchaikovsky gave him a “Five” with three pluses at the final exam. Rakhmaninov submitted his first opuses to Tchaikovsky for his judgment. "Tchaikovsky supported me, - Rakhmaninov remembered. – He was so kind and helped me as a composer".
"Portrait of Sergei Rachmaninov"
Author Rinat Kuramshin
Rakhmaninov’s opera was well accepted by critics and public. Tchaikovsky planned to include the Aleko into the repertoire of the Bolshoi Theater with the one-act opera Iolanta. But Thcaikovsky died on October 25, 1893. Iolanta was staged but without Aleko.
In 1899, Rakhmaninov’s first foreign performance took place. But the foreign public had got to know the composer a bit earlier. In 1898, the Bells prelude was plaid at the concert of Alexander Ziloti.
The prelude had an overwhelming success. In autumn the young composer received an invitation from London. English people wanted to hear this composition plaid by the author. In the spring of 1899 Rakhmaninov went abroad for the first time – to England. The concert took place in the Queen’s Hall. In the UK Rakhmaninov performed as a composer, a pianist and a director.
Photo. Manor of S.Rachmaninov
S. Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2
Photo. Villa Senar. Switzerland
He plaid the Cliff with the orchestra, the aria from the King Igor by Borodin (Singer Andrey sang it). He plaid the Elegiya on the piano from Opus 3 and his famous prelude. In the second part of the concert the Fifth Beethoven’s Symphony was directed by Sir Alexander Campbell Mackenzi.
Rakhmaninov’s success was unique in Great Britain. The English people were amused by the way he held the orchestra – by the perfection of movements and by the fact that he made the music breathe with his stick having converted the musicians into a single organism. The musicians accepted Rakhmaninov at once and the public was very attentive. Francesco Berger, secretary of London Symphony Society, invited the musician for the next year because the English public wished to listen to his piano concert. The inspired composer promised to compose a new concert. The ballet «Paganini» was set to music by Rachmaninoff (1939, London).
Also, Rakhmaninov’s name is associated with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. In 1907, a milestone event happened – that is a series of music concerts called the Historical Russian Concerts that took place in Grand Opera. Such famous people took part in the concert as N. Rimsky-Korsakov, S. Rakhmaninov, A. Glazunov and F. Shalyapin. In Paris Rakhmaninov directed his Second Concert and then the Spring Cantata. It was a great success. Although the Parisians knew the musician for such a short time, this acquaintance brought its fruit. The French people saw Rubinstein’s and Tchaikovsky’s traditions in his music. The bell sounds of the Second Concert and the endless melodic «horizontal» was for some reason not associated in the minds of critics with the Russian world, the Russian landscape or the Russian melos. But they wrote with approval about the music like «the Concert sounded as a genuine symphony, cantata and in spite of vivid traditionalism, it showed freshness of themes and true lyrism».
In January 1914, Rachmaninoff began a concert tour of England which was enthusiastically received. In 1915, Rachmaninoff completed his second major choral work, All-Night Vigil.
Rakhmaninov’s composition work has a huge importance. Rakhmaninov synthesized various trends of the Russian art, different thematic and stylistic directions and combined them into a common denominator – i.e. the Russian national style. Rakhmaninov was the first (together with Skryabin) to bring the Russian piano music to the worldwide level. He became one of the first Russian composers whose piano pieces are included into repertoires of all pianist of the world.