April 1, 1873
Oneg, near Semyonovo, Russia
March 28, 1943 in Beverly Hills, California due to cancer.
Also Known As:
His full name was Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff or Rachmaninov; he was a Russian composer, conductor and concert pianist whose works reflected 19th century Romanticism. He is also considered the last, greatest Russian Romantic composer.
Type of Compositions:
Rachmaninoff came from a musically-talented family; both his father and grandfather played the piano. He started taking piano lessons at the age of 6 with his mother who was a trained pianist. He later went to St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied piano and composition. Vladimir Delyansky was one of his teachers at the said conservatory. Later on, Rachmaninoff attended the Moscow Conservatory, studying with Nikolay Zverev and Alexander Siloti, the latter being Rachmaninoff's cousin. He studied counterpoint with Taneyev and harmony with Arensky. Rachmaninoff was further influenced by the works of Tchaikovsky
His major works include "Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op. 3 no. 2" (1892), "Piano Concerto no. 2 in C minor" (1901), "The Bells," "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" (1934), "Third Symphony" (1936) and the tone poem "Isle of the Dead."
Rachmaninoff suffered from a nervous breakdown after the disastrous performance of his "First Symphony in D minor." He was unable to compose for 3 years but eventually recovered with the help of Dr. Nikolay Dahl. His "Second Piano Concerto" was dedicated to Dr. Dahl.
Rachmaninoff was quite a tall man, standing over 6 feet in height. He also had huge hands which enabled him to play large intervals on the keyboard. During his tour in the United States, he was offered the position of conductor for the Boston Symphony but he turned it down. He was married to Natalya Satina, his cousin, and became a U.S. citizen just a few weeks before he died on March 28, 1943.