Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian pianist and composer. He was born into an aristocratic family in Oneg, Russia on April 1, 1873. Both his father and grandfather played the piano, and Rachmaninoff became acquainted with music early in life. He entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1882. Although he was a highly talented pianist, Rachmaninoff lacked discipline. He was sent to the Moscow conservatory in 1855 and entrusted to a single, strict professor. While in Moscow, he met Tchaikovsky, who would have a great deal of influence on his music. After graduating in 1891, Rachmaninoff made his debut as a concert pianist with a performance of his own Prelude No. 2. Punctuated by powerful chords, the early prelude illustrated the pathos and unique melodies that the artist would go on to express throughout his career. In 1893, he began a concert tour that took him abroad.
He wrote new pieces, but the failure of his first symphony, written in 1895 discouraged him so much that he stopped composing.
Rachmaninoff returned to popularity in 1901 with his Piano Concerto No. 2. Its majestic, epic first movement became one of his most famous works. Critics did not appreciate the pianist as a composer, accusing him of being little inclined to experiment, but the general public loved him for the emotional intensity of his works. His technical ability as a pianist also earned him admiration. He exemplified his virtuosity with the Piano Concerto No. 3, which he played for the first time during a 1909 tour of the US. Pianists still consider it one of the most challenging pieces ever written for the piano. Rachmaninoff directed the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra between 1911 and 1913. After the Russian Revolution took place in 1917, he left his native country for good, moving to the US. There he continued to give concert performances and compose new works, including the “Symphonic Dances” in 1940. Rachmaninoff died in Beverly Hills on March 28, 1943. He was 69. He would go down in history as the last of the romantic composers.