Piano Music - Sergei Rachmaninov

Sergei Rachmaninov


1873 - 1943
Sergei Rachmaninov was a Russian composer, virtuoso pianist, and conductor of the late Romantic period.


"What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love! Music is the Sister of Poetry and her Mother is sorrow!"


“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.”


“The new kind of music seems to create not from the heart but from the head. Its composers think rather than feel. They have not the capacity to make their works exalt - they meditate, protest, analyze, reason, calculate and brood, but they do not exalt.”


“I feel like a ghost wandering in a world grown alien. I cannot cast out the old way of writing and I cannot acquire the new. I have made an intense effort to feel the musical manner of today, but it will not come to me.”


"I compose music because I must give expression to my feelings, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts."


"The virtuosos look to the students of the world to do their share in the education of the great musical public. Do not waste your time with music that is trite or ignoble. Life is too short to spend it wandering in the barren Saharas of musical trash."
"Great Pianists on Piano Playing". Book by James Francis Cooke, p. 217, 1999.


"I believe this matter of insisting on a thorough technical knowledge, particularly scale playing, is a very vital one. The mere ability to play a few pieces does not constitute musical proficiency."


"A good conductor ought to be a good chauffeur; the qualities that make the one also make the other. They are concentration, an incessant control of attention, and presence of mind; the conductor only has to add a little sense of music."


"I can respect the artistic aim of a composer if he arrives at the so-called modern idiom after an intense period of preparation…Such composers know what they are doing when they break a law; they know what to react against, because they have had experience in the classical forms and style. Having mastered the rules, they know which can be violated and which should be obeyed. But, I am sorry to say, I have found too often that young composers plunge into the writing of experimental music with their school lessons only half learned. Too much radical music is sheer sham, for this very reason: its composer sets about revolutionizing the laws of music before he learned them himself."
Interviewed by David Ewen in The Etude, 1941; cited from Josiah Fisk and Jeff Nichols (eds.) Composers on Music (Boston, MA: Northeastern Universities Press, 1997) pp. 235-6


"It goes without saying, that technical proficiency should be one of the first acquisitions of the student who would become a fine pianist. It is impossible to conceive of fine playing that is not marked by clean, fluent, distinct, elastic technic. The technical ability of the performer should be of such a nature that it can be applied immediately to all the artistic demands of the composition to be interpreted. Of course, there may be individual passages which require some special technical study, but, generally speaking, technic is worthless unless the hands and the mind of the player are so trained that they can encompass the principal difficulties found in modern compositions."
In James Francis Cooke's Great Pianists on Piano Playing


"Personally, I believe this matter of insisting upon a thorough technical knowledge is a very vital one. The mere ability to play a few pieces does not constitute musical proficiency. It is like those music boxes which possess only a few tunes, The student's technical grasp should be all-embracing."
In James Francis Cooke's Great Pianists on Piano Playing


Quotes by Sergei Rachmaninov










Piano Music by Sergei Rachmaninov


Pesn′ bez slov [Song without Words], d, 1886 or 1887

— 3 Nocturnes: no.1, f♯, 1887; no.2, F, 1887; no.3, c–E♭, 1888

— 4 Pieces, ?1888: Romance, f♯; Prélude, e♭; Mélodie, E; Gavotte, D

— 2 Pieces, 6 hands: Waltz, A, 1890; Romance, A, 1891

— Prélude, F, 1891, rev. 1892 as Prelude, vc, pf

— Russian Rhapsody, e, 2 pf, 1891

Op. 3 Morceaux de fantaisie, 1892: Elégie, e; Prélude, c♯, arr. 2 pf 1938; Mélodie, E, rev. 1940; Polichinelle, f♯; Sérénade, b♭, rev. ?1940

— Romance, G, 4 hands, 1893

Op. 5 Fantaisie-tableaux (Suite no.1), 2 pf, 1893

Op. 10 Morceaux de salon, 1893–4: Nocturne, a; Valse, A; Barcarolle, g; Mélodie, e; Humoresque, G, rev. 1940; Romance, f; Mazurka, D

Op. 11 6 Duets, 4 hands, 1894: Barcarolle, g; Scherzo, D; Thème russe, b; Valse, A; Romance, c; Slava [Glory], C

Op. 16 Moments musicaux, 1896: Andantino, b; Allegretto, e, rev. 1940; Andante cantabile, b; Presto, e; Adagio sostenuto, D; Maestoso, C

— Improvisations, ?1896, for 4 Improvisations, collab. Arensky, Glazunov and Taneyev

— Morceau de fantaisie, g, 1899

— Fughetta, F, 1899

Op. 17 Suite no.2, 2 pf, 1900–01

Op. 22 Variations on a Theme of Chopin, 1902–3

Op. 23 10 Preludes, 1903 (except no.5, 1901)

— Polka italienne, pf 4 hands, ?1906

Op. 28 Sonata no.1, d, 1907

Op. 32 13 Preludes, 1910

Op. 33 Etudes-tableaux, 1911: no.1, f; no.2, C; no.3 (6), e; no.4 (7), E; no.5 (8), g; no.6 (9), c♯; 3 other pieces intended for op.33 withdrawn before publication; of these, no.4, a, pubd as op.39 no.6; no.3, c, and no.5, d, pubd posthumously

Op. 36 Sonata no.2, b, 1913, rev. 1931

Op. 39 Etudes-tableaux, 1916–17: no.1, c; no.2, a; no.3, f♯; no.4, b; no.5, e♭; no.6, a; no.7, c; no.8, d; no.9, D

— Oriental Sketch, 1917

— Piece, d, 1917

— Fragments, 1917

— Cadenza for Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody no.2, 1919

42 Variations on a Theme of Corelli, 1931



Sergei Rachmaninov Plays


Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
Piano Concerto No. 2 In C minor, Op. 18 / 1929
Leopold Stokowski, conductor
The Philadelphia Orchestra



Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
Piano Concerto No. 3 In D minor, Op. 30 / 1939-40



Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini, Op. 43 / 1934
Leopold Stokowski, conductor
The Philadelphia Orchestra



Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
Piano Concerto No. 1 In F Sharp minor, Op. 1 / 1939
Eugene Ormandy, conductor
The Philadelphia Orchestra



Rachmaninoff plays Rachmaninoff
Piano Concerto No. 4 In G minor, Op. 40 / 1941
Eugene Ormandy, conductor
The Philadelphia Orchestra