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Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky


            Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. As a composer, he was very nearly the last great representative of Russian late Romanticism in classical music. His reputation as a composer came on later in life. Rachmaninoff's skill as a pianist was well known and highly respected. He was one of the greatest pianists of his time, having legendary technical facilities and rhythmic drive, and his large hands were able to cover a thirteenth interval on the piano. Rachmaninoff went through periods of extreme mental depression and also had to suffer the strain of leaving his own native country in which he immigrated to America at the height of his fame, due to the Russian Revolution of 1917. His life was one of comparative stability in the history of Russian and American music. In him, there were none of the emotional complexities of Tchaikovsky, yet there were contradictions of his personality. Audiences who observed him for the first time were amazed to see that such a cool outward appearance could conceal the warmth of feeling in his piano playing. It was only in his music, both as a pianist and composer, that he was able to release his inner emotions. It was with this inner passion that Rachmaninoff was able to create an abundant amount of imaginative and innovative music.
             Since Rachmaninoff's style was pretty much Russian, his music shows the influence of the idol of his youth, Tchaikovsky. He met Tchaikovsky in Moscow who became an important mentor and commissioned the teenage Rachmaninoff to arrange a piano transcription of the suite of his ballet "The Sleeping Beauty". Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff were two composers with relatively similar backgrounds.¬†They both came from musical families. Both their families were considered to be in the upper ranking of the Tsar's Russia. They both trained with the best composers/teachers and their music drastically diverged from one another.


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