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WRTI 90.1's Essential Classical Composer No. 7: Sergei Rachmaninoff

Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

Melodies that will melt your heart, and piano passages that will bust your knuckles—that’s what Sergei Rachmaninoff brings to the table. From symphonies to piano concertos, this Russian composer’s music moves you so much you voted him the No. 7 Most Essential Classical Composer.

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Did you know this about him?

  • Rachmaninoff, living in Beverly Hills, California, became a U.S. citizen one month before he died.
  • Criticism of his first symphony was so severe, he stopped composing for about four years and went into therapy, including hypnosis.
  • His second and third piano concertos have wide appeal with audiences.
  • The piano titans Rachmaninoff and Vladimir Horowitz were fast friends.
  • Hearing a piece of music once, he could play it back, even years later.
  • His hands were so big, he could play an octave and a fifth with his left hand—not just that, but this chord: C-Eb-G-C-G. Try it. We dare you.

Daniil Trifonov speaks with Susan Lewis about a lesser-known Rachmaninoff piano concerto, the Fourth.