Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1 - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Composer, pianist and conductor Sergei Rachmaninoff was born on April 1, 1873, north of Moscow, to an old Russian aristocratic family. He began studying music at age 10 at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and is considered one of the greatest pianists of his era. After the failure of his First Symphony (the conductor was drunk at the premiere), a romantic setback and an insult paid by author Leo Tolstoy, he composed his remarkable Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor (1900), which contains at least two of Rachmaninoff’s most beautiful and enduring melodies. His hands were very large, allowing him to reach complex chordal configurations; his left-hand technique was especially strong. It is likely that he had Marfan syndrome, a disease marked by long limbs and long fingers. Much of his work features unusually widely spaced chords for bell-like sounds reminiscent of church bells he heard in his childhood. He lived for 26 years in the United States and died in Beverly Hills in 1943.

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