1 April 1873 - 28 March 1943 (age 69)

Sergei Rachmaninoff (or Rachmaninov) was a virtuoso Russian pianist, conductor and composer.
He was influenced and encouraged by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Scriabin. He left Russia in 1918 and went on to become one of the 20th century's most well known and well paid concert pianists.



The Man


Travels and Career


Portrait of Rachmaninoff

Portrait by Paul Helm
click on image for more info


Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff
Born: 1 April 1873, near Novgorod, Russia
Father: Vasily, landowner and army officer.
Mother: Lyou Boutakovia, gave him his first piano lessons.
Siblings: two sisters Sofiya died diphtheria
Wife: cousin Natalya Satina
Children: 2 daughters
Death: 28 March 1943, of melanoma, Beverly Hills, Califoria
Grave: Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York.


- Operas: Aleko, The Miserly Knight, Francesca da Rimini
- 4 Piano Concertos
- 3 Symphonies
- Choral Symphony: The Bells
- Symphonic Dances
- Fantasia: The Rock
- Cantata: Spring
- Tone poem: Isle of the Dead
- Viariations on a Theme of Corelli
- Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini
- Vespers
- 13 Preludes
- 14 songs
- In the Silence of the Secret Night

Images of Rachmaninov

A collection of related images from art, caricatures, stamps, album covers etc..

The Man

Rachmaninoff was 6'6" (1.98m) tall. His hands were huge, he apparently could span a 13th. He also had a formidable memory for music and could faithfully play back music he had heard only once even years earlier.

He was often perceived as a grumpy person. Igor Stravinsky famously described him as "Six foot six of Russian gloom". However friends and people who knew him well descibe his sense of humour, big laugh and appreciation of good food, wine and good company. Watch the video below to see him and judge for yourself.

He loved fast cars and had many a fine for speeding. He bought a new car every year. In Switzerland he had a fast boat on Lake Lucerne.

He gave many charitable performances and donated generously to the war effort against the Nazis.

In 1923 he gave a loan to fellow Russian Igor Sikorsky whose Long Island aircraft factory was facing disaster. This was the beginning of a long friendship and Rachmaninoff was made the first Vice-president of the Sikorsky company.

This is the most complete collection of his video clips.The recording of Rachmaninoff's voice is also included.
To watch this video click on the image to watch it directly at YouTube


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

Travels and Career

  • Age 4 His mother, a trained amateur pianist gave him lessons.
  • Age 9 Family moved to St.Petersburg where he studied at the Conservatory.
  • Age 12-14 Studied at the Moscow Conservatory
  • Age 26 Visit to London where he gave several concerts.
  • Age 25-27 Suffered severe depression, self-doubt and a nervous breakdown. He was cured by Dr. Dahl with a course of hypnotherapy.
  • Age 29 Married his first cousin Natalya Satina, after a long engagement due to the opposition of the Orthodox Church.
  • Age 31 Conductor at the Bolshoi Ballet. Resigned two years later for political reasons and spent some time in Italy and Germany.
  • Age 36 First tour of the USA. He had just finished his 3rd Piano Concerto which was given a great reception.
  • Age 43 The October Revolution of 1917, which brought about a Soviet government, disturbed Racmaninoff. On receipt of an invitation to give a concert in Stockholm he left Russia with his family never to return. In 1918 they went to live in New York.
  • Age 43-69 While living in America he made frequent extended visits to Paris (where he set up a music publishing company), Dresden, and Switzerland where he built a villa on the coast of Lake Lucerne.
  • Age 69 He and his wife were made US citizens two months  before he died.

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
BBC Proms 2013 - with an interesting introduction.

Prelude Op. 3 No. 2 in C# Minor

From a piano roll recorded by Rachmaninoff himself playing

Valentina Lisitsa plays his Prelude in G minor Opus 23

Rachmaninov piano concerto n.2, I. Moderato
Evgeny Kissin, Sir Andrew Davis conducting the BBC SO.

Rachmaninov on eBay

You will find lots of Rachmaninov related items on eBay, some new, some used, some common, some rare. Always good for a browse - you never know what you may find!

Links, sources and where to go for more information

Classic Cat a biography and links

The Rachmaninoff Society

Answers.com consolidated reference sites

Russian Composers: more profiles here at 52composers.com

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