Rachmaninoff, Sergei

Rachmaninoff, Sergei [Рахманинов, Сергей; Raxmaninov, Sergej], b 1 April 1873 in Oneg, Novgorod gubernia, d 28 March 1943 in Beverly Hills, California, USA. Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. He studied at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in the theory and harmony class of Ukrainian musicologist Oleksander Rubets (1882–5) and frequently appeared as pianist and conductor in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa before emigrating to the United States of America after the Revolution of 1917. Several of his works contain conspicuous Ukrainian elements; they include a setting of the Ukrainian folk song ‘Choboty’ (Boots) for mixed chorus a cappella (1899), a fragment for vocal quartet titled ‘Mazeppa’ (ca 1890, lyrics based on Aleksandr Pushkin), the symphonic poem Prince Rostyslav (1891), and transcriptions of Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘Hopak’ dance from Sorochyntsi Fair. He also composed three art songs for solo voice with piano to Russian versions of poems by Taras Shevchenko—‘The Days Pass By’ or ‘Duma,’ ‘Soldier’s Wife,’ and ‘Again I Am Alone.’ Some of his works are influenced by or contain ancient ritualistic chants of the Kyivan Cave Monastery (see Kyivan chant), among them the Third Piano Concerto (First Movement, opening theme), the Sacred Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (1910), and Vespers Service (1915).

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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