Sergei Rachmaninoff: Champion of the Romantic Era

It appears as a foreign language to those who can’t read a score. It’d be a shame to dismiss so quickly, because there’s one thing we all share that unlocks it and allows us to ‘read’ its notes, and that’s our heart. Sergei Rachmaninoff {1873–1943} was a champion of expression and grandiose melodies, considered by some, a genius. Not only was he a composer, as some of his contemporaries were, but a giant of the pianoforte and a conductor as well. He was a master at imparting emotion and melancholy throughout a score. Somehow, he expertly outlined onto manuscript what he knew our hearts could decipher. Pure emotion. An almost unfathomable gift with a depth so great, we seem to pale in comparison as mortals under his soaring mastery of compositional prowess. Upon listening to Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30 {composed, 1909}, his vibrant intent utilizing melodic romanticism unfolds in one of the greatest works of the piano literature. It’s considered one of the most difficult concertos for the pianist to perform with full orchestra! The brief, 3 bar example {above}, races past the pianists’ fingers at near lightning speed. The Argentine pianist, Martha Argerich, exudes a masterful interpretation of this concerto in various recordings. There are so many great composers, it’s impossible to choose a short list, although I have a special affinity for Rachmaninoff’s body of work. I also greatly admired Ruth Laredo, who, in her lifetime, recorded the complete solo piano works of Rachmaninoff. A formidable feat by any standard, requiring years of commitment and study, Ruth left us with a legacy of recordings beyond compare. I’m grateful for her journey and for Sergei’s original artistry which illustrates the very best of romanticism in compositional form. Bravo!

2 Responses to “Sergei Rachmaninoff: Champion of the Romantic Era”
  1. Annie says:

    You write in a way that makes me want to look into this composer’s life and also check out Ruth. That’s pretty good motivation for a short piece!

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