Sergei Rachmaninoff was born on April 1, 1873, on a large estate near the ancient city of Novgorod, Russia. His father was an army officer and his mother was a wealthy heiress. His father gambled, drank, and squandered his wife's money. He deserted his family when Sergei was nine years old.
By all accounts Young Sergei was a problem child, but had an extraordinary talent at the piano. At age nine he entered the College of Music in St. Petersburg. Because of his natural gift, Sergei did not bother to study. To solve his discipline problem Rachmaninoff moved to Moscow to live with Nikolai Zvereff of the Moscow Conservatory. Zvereff was one of the leading music teachers in Russia at the time. In 1892, Rachmaninoff graduated from the conservatory with high honors.
In 1909, Rachmaninoff made his first visit to the United States, receiving an enthusiastic welcome. Afterwards, he visited America once every season. Rachmaninoff died on March 28, 1943, only a few weeks after attaining his American citizenship, and five days before his seventieth birthday. During his career Rachmaninoff wrote 145 compositions, including piano concertos and symphonies.
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Rachmaninoff: Life, Works, Recordings
by Max Harrison
One of the best Rachmaninoff biographies ever written. Published in 2005, Harrison provides a contemporary critical perspective, placing Rachmaninoff's music within the context of his life.
Sergei Rachmaninoff: A Lifetime in Music
by Sergei Bertensson and Jay Leyda
Reprinted in 2001, Bertensson and Leyda's 1956 biography of Rachmaninoff provides penetrating insight into the evolution of his compositions and how their critical reception affected him. Temple University Professor of Music David Cannata's introduction to this new edition summarizes what has happened in Rachmaninoff scholarship since the book was first published.
Harvest of Sorrow
Directed by Tony Palmer
This 100-minute documentary film, shot in Russia, Switzerland and America, is made with the full participation of the composer s grandson, Alexander Rachmaninoff. Rachmaninoff's letters and other reminiscences are spoken by Sir John Gielgud. The music is performed by Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theater in St Petersburg with which Rachmaninoff was associated.
Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff
Rachmaninoff: The Symphonies Box Set
Piano Concertos 1-4
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Greatest Hits
The Best of Rachmaninoff
The Library of Congress's collection of the music manuscripts, papers, and records of Sergei Rachmaninoff
The Rachmaninoff Society
East Sussex, England
The Rachmaninoff Society