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Sergei Rachmaninoff

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Sergei Rachmaninoff
Sergei Rachmaninoff: A Study of Études-Tableaux Op.33
Mike Mayrand
Music of the Early Twentieth Century MUS 244
Prof. F. Gaudette
April 14, 2006

Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff was born April 1st, 1873 in Semyonovo, Russia and can be classified as a Russian-American composer, pianist and conductor. While his reputation as a composer only came later in life, Rachmaninoff 's skill as pianist was well-known and highly respected. He was one of the greatest pianists of his generation, having legendary technical facilities and rhythmic drive, and his large hands were able to cover a thirteenth interval on the piano (a distance requiring a hand span of approximately twelve inches) (Wikipedia, 2006). Like most artists, Rachmaninoff endured periods of extreme mental depression and also had to suffer the strain of leaving his own native country in which he emigrated to American at the height of his fame, due to the Russian Revolution of 1917. His life was one of comparative stability in the history of Russian and American music. In him, there were none of the emotional complexities of Tchaikovsky or Scriabin, yet there were contradictions of his personality. Audiences, who observed him for the first time, were amazed to see that such a cool outward appearance could conceal the warmth of feeling of his piano playing. It was only in his music, both as a pianist and composer, that he was able to release his inner emotions (Norris, 1976). It is with this inner passion, that Rachmaninoff was able to create an abundant amount of imaginative and innovative music. Rachmaninoff 's style is fundamentally Russian. His music shows the influence of the idol of his youth, Tchaikovsky. However, his harmonic language expanded above and beyond that of Tchaikovsky. Rachmaninoff 's frequently used motifs include the Dies Irae, often just the fragments of the first phrase. This is especially prevalent in The Bells, The Isle of the Dead, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and the



References: Bertensson, S. & Leyda, J. (1964) Sergei Rachmaninoff: A Lifetime in Music. New York University Press. New York. Glover, A. (2003) An Annotated Catalogue of the Major Piano Works of Sergei Rachmaninoff (Doctoral dissertation, Florida State University, 2003). Retrieved: April 13, 2006, from http://etd.lib.fsu.edu/theses/available/etd-08262003-154535/ Martyn, B. (1990) Rachmaninoff: Composer, Pianist, Conductor. Scolar Press. England. Norris, G. (1976) Rakhmaninov. J.M. Dent & Sons LTD. London. Seroff, V. (1970) Rachmaninoff. Books for Libraries Press. New York. Wikipedia. (2006) Sergei Rachmaninoff. Retrieved: April 13, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Rachmaninoff

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