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Serghei Rahmaninov

Serghei Vasilievici Rahmaninov (n. 1 aprilie 1873, Novgorod, Rusia – d. 28 martie 1943, Beverly Hills, SUA) a fost un
compozitor şi pianist rus legendar, care a emigrat după revoluţia comunistă din 1917, şi a devenit una dintre vedetele de
concert cel mai bine plătite din timpul său, şi unul dintre cei mai influenţi pianişti ai secolului 20. Serghei Rahmaninov s-a
născut din părinţi aristocratici, aceştia deţinând mai multe moşii. Ambii părinţi ai lui Rahmaninov erau pianişti amatori, de
la aceştia primind viitorul mare compozitor, primele lecţii, după care, la St. Petersburg, a luat lecţii de la Anna Ornatskaya
timp de 3 ani înainte de prăbuşirea economică a părinţilor săi.
La vârstă de 12 ani Serghei Rahmaninov s-a mutat la Moscova, unde în urma studiilor cu Nikolai Zverev i s-a dezvoltat
echilibrul muzical.
Rahmaninov a devenit un student valoros, terminându-şi studiul pianului cu un an mai devreme în anul 1891. Pentru a
termina cursul de compoziţie cu Arensky într-un singur an, el a scris într-un act opera Aleko (bazat pe Ţiganii lui Puşkin),
care a avut premiera la Teatrul Bolshoi în anul 1893, operă care a devenit foarte cunoscută.
Serghei Rahmaninov a primit Medalia Mare de Aur la Conservatorul din Moscova, fiind a treia persoană care a primit
această onoare iar relaţia sa cu Zverev a început să se deterioreze după ce a decis să devină compozitor.
Lucrările conservatoare ale lui Rahmaninov cum ar fi Concertul de pian No. 1 şi Prelude în C minor- pentru pian solo au
devenit, de asemenea, foarte cunoscute şi apreciate.
Rahmaninov a fost un compozitor activ până în martie 1897 când Simfonia lui No. 1, pusă în scenă sub Alexander
Glazunov, a avut o premieră dezastruasă, aceasta fiind aspru criticată de criticii vremii, inclusiv de César Cui. Premiera
Simfoniei nr. 1 l-a bântuit pe Serghei Rahmaninov şi compoziţia nu a mai fost pusă în scenă din nou până după moartea
sa. Acest fiasco l-a aruncat Rahmaninov într-o depresie care l-a lăsat în imposibilitatea de a compune lucrări de mare
amploare, timp de trei ani. El a lucrat în principal ca pianist de concert, dirijor, profesor. Rahmaninov a început să se
recupereze cu ajutor specializat şi a început să lucreze la pian pentru Concertul nr 2 devenind din 1900 cel mai iubit
concert în muzică occidentală.
Rahmaninov s-a bucurat de succes artistic şi financiar, după o perioadă de zece ani, înainte de agravarea Primului
Război Mondial.
În anul 1902, s-a căsătorit cu verişoara sa Natalia Satin, cu acordul preoţilor din armata rusă. El a servit ca dirijor al
Teatrului Bolshoi între anii 1904-1906, apoi îşi dedică timpul de compoziţie în Italia şi Germania.
Primul turneu de performanţă al lui Serghei Rahmaninov în Statele Unite a avut loc în anul 1909, pentru care a scris în
mod specific Concertul pentru pian nr 3. Alte lucrări importante ale lui Serghei Rahmaninov din această perioadă sunt
cincisprezece cântece (1906) pentru voce şi pian, Simfonia 2 (1908) şi Sonata pentru pian No. 1 (1908).
În decembrie 1917, regimul leninist a confiscat Ivanovka şi imobiliarele lui Rahmaninov de lângă Tambov. El s-a mutat cu
soţia şi cele două fiice în Danemarca înainte de mutarea la New York din anul următor.
Serghei Rahmaninov a criticat în mod deschis guvernului sovietic în martie 1931 printr-o scrisoare către New York Times,
după ce muzica sa fusese interzisă din sălile de performanţă din întreaga URSS.
Compoziţiile lui Rahmaninov sunt limitate ca număr, dar sonorităţile lor luxuriante şi grandoarea le-au făcut standarde de
muzică clasică.
În anul 1943 Serghei Rahmaninov şi soţia să primesc cetăţenie americană însă marele compozitor nu apucă să se
bucure de ea pentru că se stinge din viaţă în acelaşi an la vârsta de 70 de ani în urma unui cancer de piele.
Ne înrudim cu el!

Arborele său genealogic duce, în mod surprinzător, către domnitorul moldovean Ştefan cel Mare, aşa cum aflăm din
datele oferite de însăşi familia compozitorului, al cărei titlu nobiliar se leagă tocmai această neaşteptată, dar onorantă
pentru melomanii români, descendenţă. Aşa cum reiese din datele publicate în 1895 de matematicianul rus Ivan I.
Rahmaninov, profesor şi rector al Universităţii „Sf. Vladimir” din Kiev, dar şi dintr-o adeverinţă eliberată de oficialităţile din
Tambov, prin care era certificată descendenţa nobiliară a lui Serghei Rahmaninov, neamul Rahmaninovilor porneşte de la
unul dintre fiii lui Ştefan cel Mare, şi anume Ion, sau Ivan, supranumit Vecin, cel care s-a stabilit în anul 1483, împreună
cu familia, la Moscova, în urma căsătoriei surorii sale Elena cu marele Cneaz Ioan al III-lea al Rusiei. Fiul lui Ion Vecin,
numit Vasile, sau Vasili, a fost supranumit „Rahmanin” (pe timpuri, în zona moscovită acest cuvânt caracteriza o persoană
foarte deschisă şi generoasă), de unde şi numele descendenţilor săi.

Serghei Rahmaninov – traseu de viaţă

Deşi s-a născut într-o familie înstărită, în copilărie a suferit mari lipsuri: ca urmare a firii risipitoare a tatălui său, moşiile au
fost vândute una după alta în contul datoriilor, iar familia s-a văzut nevoită să se mute la St.Petersburg, unde a închiriat
un apartament modest, şi să solicite burse gratuite pentru educaţia copiilor. Situaţia s-a agravat după separarea definitivă
a părinţilor. Din acea perioadă datează una dintre pozele lui Rahmaninov, în care biografii surprind privirea pierdută şi
tristă a copilului.

El însuşi a fost un familist model: şi-a adorat soţia, cele două fiice şi nepoţii. Înconjurat de dragostea acestora, uita de
înclinaţia sa firească pentru melancolie… Era un introvertit. Nu-şi afişa niciodată emoţiile în public, nu-i plăceau
interviurile, evita reuniunile mondene. În ochii contemporanilor, părea o persoană greu abordabilă, orgolioasă şi distantă.
„Nimic mai fals!” - susţineau apropiaţii, care explicau această impresie generală prin timiditatea de care era cuprins
Rahmaninov în prezenţa necunoscuţilor. În fapt, era binevoitor faţă de toată lumea, iar acest fapt devenea evident în cerc
restrâns, în familie sau alături de prieteni. Ieşeau atunci la lumină cele mai alese calităţi ale lui Rahmaninov-omul: amabil,
iubitor, sensibil, mereu pregătit să ajute, dotat cu un admirabil simţ al umorului şi cu un râs molipsitor, inconfundabil.
Vechiul său prieten, marele Fiodor Şaliapin, venea special în vizită pentru a-l face să râdă şi obţinea acest lucru
reprezentând adevărate show-uri - vorbite, cântate sau mimate - spre deliciul tuturor celor prezenţi, dar mai ales al lui
Rahmaninov însuşi, al cărui râs în cascade putea fi auzit ore întregi după încheierea acestora.

Anii de maturitate

La 44 de ani a fost nevoit să ia viaţa de la capăt : după ce obţinuse consacrarea în Rusia în calitate de compozitor, dirijor
şi pianist-interpret al propriilor creaţii (simpla menţionare a numelui său pe afişe golea instantaneu casele de bilete),
Rahmaninov şi-a părăsit ţara în urma evenimentelor dramatice din octombrie 1917. Pentru a-şi restabili situaţia financiară
şi a-şi plăti datoriile, singura soluţie i s-a părut a fi atunci cariera de pianist-virtuoz, astfel încât a început o muncă îndârjită
pentru reconstituirea tehnicii pianistice şi însuşirea unui repertoriu de concert corespunzător. Scopul său a devenit, de
atunci, atingerea perfecţiunii în interpretare. Se spune că odată cu plecarea sa din Rusia, şi-a pierdut pentru totdeauna
sursa inspiraţiei, că a fost nefericit din această cauză şi că activitatea pianistică îi răpea timpul preţios destinat
compoziţiei. Pentru Rahmaninov însă bucuria unui concert reuşit echivala cu satisfacţia adusă de compoziţie, astfel încât,
după propriile mărturii, nu avea de ce să sufere. „Iarna sunt pianist, iar vara – compozitor” – spunea el, deşi nu respecta
mereu această regulă din cauza programului concertistic încărcat, de aici pornind şi numeroasele supoziţii legate de o
aşa-zisă „nefericire”.

Îi plăceau lucrurile de calitate: se îmbrăca la cei mai buni croitori, conducea cele mai bune maşini şi, desigur, cânta pe
cele mai bune piane: în urma contractului său cu firma Steinway, pianele de concert puse la dispoziţie de aceasta îl
aşteptau oriunde avea turnee.

Interesting facts about Rahmaninoff – the last romantic composer


1. Rachmaninoff was twice offered the position of conductor at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He refused both times.
2. Aside from being a magnificent composer, Rachmaninoff was also a man of strong moral character. In
1912, Rachmaninoff resigned from his position as vice-president of the Russian Musical Society in protest to a musician
being dismissed from his duties because he was Jewish.
3. Rachmaninoff’s last piano recital included Chopin’s Sonata no. 2, which includes a famous funeral march.
Rachmaninoff died 40 days after performing the funeral march. Rachmaninoff’s composition All Night Vigil was sung at his
funeral.
ACHMANINOV  born in Semyonovo, Russia, on April 1, 1873, is today remembered as one of the most formidable
pianists of all time and the last truly great composer in the Russian Romantic tradition. Rachmaninov came from a music-
loving, land-owning family; young Sergei’s mother fostered the boy’s innate talent by giving him his first piano lessons.
After a decline in the family fortunes, the Rachmaninovs moved to St. Petersburg, where Sergei studied with Vladimir
Delyansky at the Conservatory.
As his star continued to rise, Sergei went to the Moscow Conservatory, where he received a sound musical training: piano
lessons from the strict disciplinarian Nikolay Zverev and Alexander Siloti (Rachmaninov‘s cousin), counterpoint with
Taneyev, and harmony with Arensky. During his time at the Conservatory, Rachmaninov boarded with Zverev, whose
weekly musical Sundays provided the young musician the valuable opportunity to make important contacts and to hear a
wide variety of music. 
As Rachmaninov’s conservatory studies continued, his burgeoning talent came into full flower; he received the personal
encouragement of Tchaikovsky, and, a year after earning a degree in piano, took the Conservatory’s gold medal in
composition for his opera Aleko (1892).
Early setbacks in his compositional career — particularly, the dismal reception of his Symphony No. 1 (1895) – led to an
extended period of depression and self-doubt, which he overcame with the aid of hypnosis. With the resounding success
of his Piano Concerto No. 2 (1900-1901), however, his lasting fame as a composer was assured. The first decade of the
twentieth century proved a productive and happy one for Rachmaninov, who during that time produced such
masterpieces as the Symphony No. 2 (1907), the tone poem Isle of the Dead (1907), and the Piano Concerto No. 3
(1909). On May 12, 1902, the composer married his cousin, Natalya Satina.
By the end of the decade, Rachmaninov had embarked on his first American tour, which cemented his fame and
popularity in the United States. He continued to make his home in Russia but left permanently following the Revolution in
1917; he thereafter lived in Switzerland and the United States between extensive European and American tours.
While his tours included conducting engagements (he was twice offered, and twice refused, leadership of the Boston
Symphony Orchestra), it was his astounding pianistic abilities which won him his greatest glory.
Rachmaninov was possessed of a keyboard technique marked by precision, clarity, and a singular legato sense. Indeed,
the pianist’s hands became the stuff of legend. He had an enormous span – he could, with his left hand, play the chord C-
E flat-G-C-G — and his playing had a characteristic power, which pianists have described as “cosmic” and
“overwhelming.” He is, for example, credited with the uncanny ability to discern, and articulate profound, mysterious
movements in a musical composition which usually remain undetected by the superficial perception of rhythmic
structures.  Fortunately for posterity, Rachmaninov recorded much of his own music, including the four piano concerti and
what is perhaps his most beloved work, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934). He became an American citizen a
few weeks before his death in Beverly Hills, CA, on March 28, 1943. Got all that?
So the question here is, does size matter?. Well, when it comes to being able to stretch your fingers well beyond 8 notes
(thats 1 full octave) in both hands, not only one, lets say up to 13 notes…its damn scary dont you think?. One thing for
sure, is that youre sure capable of playing big chords, with ease. But can you play them fast in succession?.
Rachmaninov has a collection of piano pieces, piano concertos that do this very thing…!!
For me, I can stretch at the best of times to 10 in both hands. When I was more fluent at performing and practising a
helluva lot, then it was easily 11 notes in my right hand and 10 in my left – dunno why it wasnt a balanced “affair”??.
Hahahaha…….
There again I was as I said practising like a maniac everyday for around 5 hours. 2 in the early mornings (no wonder the
neighbourhood didnt like us all after a while!), 1 hour during my day in school between that lesson and this lesson,
somehow managed it all…sometimes had to break that 1 hour into two sections of half-an-hour there and remaining half-
an-hour there, if you get my gist?.
As for now, well, I think I can still maintain a good 10 notes in both hands but when moving fast I would say to be fair, a
good 9 notes, full chords and no breaking up of the chords either. When it comes to jazz and ballroom classics, there is
no real need to be that “flashy” and sometimes it doesnt cut it…can sound weird, again if you get my gist?. If of course,
one wants to get that sound of the attacking brass attacks, sometimes it works. Btw, whats your span?
Concert pianist Lang-Lang has a span of 12 notes?. Serious?
Having talked about the span, whether it be 9, 10 or more, it’s not the  only thing that helps, especially when it comes to
playing Rachmaninov’s pieces, it still comes down to (in my humble opinion)..and I say this over and over again….how
well youre versed with the composer’s “thoughts” and “intentions” in composing such a piece. Your imagination and
“visual” perception of what youre playing is very important – “can you see in your mind the picture he is painting?”.
Imagination as Albert Einstein said “is always more important than knowledge”…well sometimes as far as I am
concerned. But if you dont have imagination and see things in your mind through the music, clear and in colour, then
Rachmaninov for one will be a real challenge.
You not even “get it” who much you try.In other words, youve got to be mad..haha…..not really.
So enough about the size of his enormous hands, lets move on to other things you probably didnt know about him.
Rachmaninov had a long an illustrious career and below gives you a clearer picture about his life as possibly the greatest
pianist and composer of his day. Yeah, I did mention 15 facts about him so, lets cut it down to 14 now since Ive already
talked about the size of his hands.
The première of Rachmaninov’s first symphony in March 1897 was a total disaster. It took place under the baton of
Glazunov, pictured, who was at best incompetent and, according to some, drunk. The critics tore the work apart and it
was never again performed during Rachmaninov’s life. He fell into a depression and needed hypnosis to conquer the
problem.
Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2 of 1901 is often described as the greatest ever written. Its subsequent use in the
film “Brief Encounter” has made it a constant favourite. When a certain survey was carried out, combined together the
chart positions of the first 15 years  the Hall of Fame chart, the work came out on top overall as the nation’s favourite
classical work. It does no doubt remain as one of the most performed piano concertos in the classical repetoire.
It was after completing his first major choral work, Vesna (Spring) in 1902, that Rachmaninov made the surprise
announcement that he was marrying his cousin, Natalya. This caused something of a stir as, in Russia, first cousins
weren’t permitted to marry. But marry they did and in May 1903 their daughter Irina – pictured – was born.
Rachmaninov was not just a composer, but in his day he was a fine conductor and magnificent pianist. He was appointed
Principal Conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre in 1904 and was offered several major posts in the U.S. – most notably with
the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Rachmaninov composed his Symphony No.2 in Dresden, where he and his family lived for the best part of four years from
1906. Writing the symphony was a daunting affair for the composer. However it was a resounding success and has
remained one of the most popular of all of his works.
Rachmaninov’s very large hands came in useful when performing his third piano concerto. It’s grander, fuller and more
expansive in tone and style than the second – with the soloist stretched to the very limits of his ability. The work is used
powerfully on the soundtrack of the film Shine and the success of the film ensured a new audience for this muscular,
Romantic work.
Rachmaninov had a very deep and personal religious faith which he expressed beautifully in 1915 through his
unaccompanied set of choral vespers. They are separated into two parts – the evening Vespers and the morning Matins,
both full of exquisitely rich harmonies.
The 1917 Russian Revolution meant the end of Russia as the composer had known it. In December 1917, he left
Petrograd for Helsinki on an open sled with his wife and daughters. Now in his 40s, Rachmaninov launched a third more
lucrative strand of his career – as a concert pianist.
Rachmaninov saw America as the future and from his arrival there in 1918 he found himself in great demand, so much so
that composing became limited to the summer months. Things reached fever pitch in the 1922-23 concert season when
Rachmaninov gave more than 70 performances between November and the end of March. He made enough money to
build a house in Los Angeles that was an exact replica of his original Moscow home.
Despite his success, Rachmaninov seldom smiled in photographs. Tall and severe, he was once dubbed a ‘six-foot
scowl’. He did however have a passion for fast cars – and later speedboats. He was the first in his neighbourhood to have
an automobile.
By the time of his final tour in 1943 Rachmaninov was already seriously ill with lung cancer brought on by a lifetime of
heavy smoking. It seems almost prophetic that his final recital on 17 February 1943 included Chopin’s famous funeral
march. He died a month later in Beverly Hills, four days before his 70th birthday.
Only a decade after Rachmaninov’s death, the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians predicted that the “enormous
popular success of Rachmaninov’s works in his lifetime is not likely to last, and musicians never regarded them with much
favour.”. Not a nice thing to say, don’t you think?. They could not have been more wrong.
As for where that point is, the composition itself determines the culmination: it can be at the end or in the middle, and be
either loud or soft.
Rachmaninoff himself learned this practice from Feodor Chaliapin, a close friend. “This moment must arrive with the
sound and sparkle of a ribbon snapped at the end of a race—it must seem like a liberation from the last material object,
the last barrier between truth and its expression,” Rachmaninoff explained. As an example of a “culminating point,” the
end of the third piano concerto might be quite fitting.
Rachmaninov certainly knew what it meant to be a great pianist and he was certainly of the greatest and most talented
around. And in closing, Id like to say this…