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Sergei Rachmaninov

Sergei Rachmaninov s-a nscut pe 1 aprilie 1873 n localitatea Semyonov din apropierea oraului Novgorod, Rusia i a murit pe 28 martie 1943 n Beverly Hills, California. La vrsta de 4 ani, mama sa, pianist amatoare, a nceput s i dea lecii de pian, ns Arkady Alexandrovici, bunicul su, a fost cel care a adus n 1882 o profesoar de la St. Petersburg, Anna Ornatskaya. Din cauza problemelor financiare, ns, familia a trebuit s se mute ntr-un mic apartament n St. Petersburg, iar profesoara s-a ntors acas. Ornatskaya a aranjat, ns, ca Sergei s fie acceptat la Conservatorul din St. Petersburg n 1883. n 1885, la Conservator, dei a cntat la evenimente importante, Sergei a picat examenul din primvar. Mama lui i-a cerut sfatul lui Siloti, pianist recunoscut i elev al lui Franz Liszt, care, recunoscnd talentul lui Rachmaninov, i propune s studieze la Conservatorul din Moscova cu profesorul Nikolai Zverev. n primvara lui 1891, Sergei i-a dat ultimul examen de pian la Conservatorul din Moscova i l-a trecut cu laude. Ultima sa pies compus pentru Conservator a fost Aleko, o oper de un act bazat pe poezia iganii de Alexandru Pushkin. Opera a fost interpretat pentru prima oar pe 19 mai 1892, iar n ciuda faptului c Rachmaninov era sigur c va fi un eec, aceasta a avut att de mult success nct Teatrul Bolshoi a accepat s-o produc. Conservatorul i-a acordat o diplom pe 29 mai 1892 iar la vrsta de 19 ani, Rachmaninov era n sfrit un artist liber. Rachmaninov a continuat s compun, tiprind cele ase Cntece op. 4 i Dou Piese op. 2. Editorul su nu i ddea banii la timp, aa c Rachmaninov a acceptat s cnte la Expoziia Electric din Moscova, unde a interpretat pentru prima oar cunoscutul su Preludiu n do diez minor (op. 3, nr. 2). Acesta, parte dintr-un ciclu de 5 piese numit Morceaux de fantaisie, a fost foarte bine primit, fiind una din cele mai cunoscute piese ale sale. Cnd a aflat c Piotr Ilici Tchaikovsky a murit, Rachmaninov a nceput aproape imediat s compun Trio elegiaque nr. 2. Neateptata moarte a lui Tchaikovsky l-a afectat profund pe Rachmaninov. Dup ce Simfonia nr. 1 a fost prost primit, Rachmaninov a czut ntr-o lung depresie, perioad n care nu a compus aproape deloc. O oportunitate a venit din partea lui Savva Mamontov, care i-a oferit lui Rachmaninov postul de dirijor asistent pentru sezonul 1897-1898. Tot n aceast perioad s-a logodit cu Natalia Satina, ns biserica i prinii fetei erau mpotriva cstoriei, deoarece cei doi erau veriori, iar acest lucru i-a ntrit depresia compozitorului. n 1900, Rachmaninov a nceput terapie auto-sugestiv cu psihologul Nikolai Dahl. Acesta l-a ajutat mult, compozitorul reuind s depeasc lipsa inspiraiei. n 1901 a terminat Concertul pentru pian nr. 2 n do minor, op 18, dedicndu-l doctorului Dahl.
The piece was enthusiastically received at its premiere at which Rachmaninoff was soloist and has since become one of the most popular and frequently played concertos in the repertoire. Rachmaninoff's spirits

were further bolstered when, after three years of engagement, he was finally allowed to marry his beloved fiance, Natalia. They were wed in a suburb of Moscow by an army priest on 29 April 1902, using the family's military background to circumvent the church. The marriage was a happy one, producing two daughters: Irina, later Princess Wolkonsky (1903-1969) and Tatiana Conus (1907-1961). Although [29] Rachmaninoff was rumored to have had an affair with the 22-year-old singer Nina Koshetz in 1916, his and Natalia's union lasted until the composer's death. Natalia Rachmaninova died in 1951. After several successful appearances as a conductor, Rachmaninoff was offered a job as conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1904, although political reasons led to his resignation in March 1906, after which he stayed in Italy until July. He spent the following three winters in Dresden, Germany, intensively [30] composing, and returning to the family estate of Ivanovka every summer. Rachmaninoff made his first tour of the United States as a pianist in 1909, an event for which he composed the Piano Concerto No. 3 (Op. 30, 1909) as a calling card. These successful concerts made him a popular figure in America; however, he was unhappy on the tour and declined requests for future [30] American concerts until after he emigrated from Russia in 1917. This included an offer to become [31] permanent conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The early death in 1915 of Alexander Scriabin, who had been his good friend and fellow student at the Moscow Conservatory, affected Rachmaninoff so deeply that he went on a tour giving concerts entirely devoted to Scriabin's music. When asked to play some of his own music, he would reply: "Only Scriabin tonight".

Emigration and career in the West[edit]

The 1917 Russian Revolution meant the end of Russia as the composer had known it. Rachmaninoff was a member of the Russian bourgeoisie, and the Revolution led to the loss of his estate, his way of life, and his livelihood. On 22 December 1917, he left Petrograd for Helsinki with his wife and two daughters on an open sled, having only a few notebooks with sketches of his own compositions and two orchestral scores, his unfinished opera Monna Vanna and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Golden Cockerel. He was 44 years old. He spent a year giving concerts in Scandinavia while laboring to widen his concert repertoire. Near the end of 1918, he received three offers of lucrative American contracts. Although he declined all three, he decided the United States might offer a solution to his financial concerns. He departed Kristiania (Oslo) for New York on 1 November 1918. Once there, Rachmaninoff quickly chose an agent, Charles Ellis, and accepted the gift of a piano from Steinway before playing 40 concerts in a four-month period. At the end of the 191920 season, he also signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company. In 1921, the Rachmaninoffs bought a house in the United States, where they consciously recreated the atmosphere of Ivanovka, entertaining Russian guests, employing Russian [32] servants, and observing old Russian customs. Due to his busy concert career, Rachmaninoff's output as composer slowed tremendously. Between 1918 and his death in 1943, while living in the U.S. and Europe, he completed only six compositions. Aside from the need to constantly tour and perform to support himself and his family, the main reason was [33] homesickness. It was during these years that he toured the United States as a concert pianist. When he left Russia, it was as if he had left behind his inspiration. His revival as a composer became possible only after he had built himself a new home, Villa Senar on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, where he spent summers from 1932 to 1939. There, in the comfort of his own villa, which reminded him of his old family estate, Rachmaninoff composed the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, one of his best known works, in

1934. He went on to compose his Symphony No. 3 (Op. 44, 193536) and theSymphonic Dances (Op. 45, 1940), his last completed work. Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered the Symphonic Dances in 1941 in the Academy of Music. In December 1939 he conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra. This was the first time he had stood on a [34] conductor's podium since January 1917, his last appearance as a conductor in Russia. In late 1940 or 1941 he was approached by the makers of the British film Dangerous Moonlight to write a short concerto-like piece for use in the film, but he declined. The job went to Richard Addinsell and the [35] orchestrator Roy Douglas, who came up with the Warsaw Concerto. Sergei Rachmaninoff was also on the Board of Directors for the Tolstoy Foundation Center in Valley Cottage, New York.

Illness and death[edit]

Rachmaninoff fell ill during a concert tour in late 1942 and was subsequently diagnosed with advanced melanoma. His family was informed, but he was not. On 1 February 1943 he and his wife [39] became American citizens. His last recital, given on 17 February 1943 at the Alumni Gymnasium of theUniversity of Tennessee in Knoxville, included Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2, which contains the famous Marche funbre (Funeral March). A statue called "Rachmaninoff: The Last Concert", designed and sculpted by Victor Bokarev, now stands in World Fair Park in Knoxville as a permanent tribute to [40] Rachmaninoff. He became so ill after this recital that he had to return to his home in Los Angeles.

Grave at Kensico Cemetery. Note English lettering and spelling on gravestone.

Rachmaninoff died of melanoma on 28 March 1943, in Beverly Hills, California, just four days before his 70th birthday. A choir sang his All Night Vigil at his funeral. He had wanted to be buried at the Villa Senar, [41] his estate in Switzerland, but the conditions of World War II made fulfilling this request impossible. He [6] was therefore interred on 1 June in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

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