Between 1914 and 1917, Sergei Rachmaninoff published two volumes of Études-Tableaux – a term coined by the composer with which he succeeded in expressing the blend of technical studies with programmatic character pieces. As with the concert etudes of Chopin or Liszt, they represent a technical and interpretational touchstone for every pianist. One of the best-known pieces amongst them is the Étude-Tableau in e flat minor with its dark towering chords and a weaving elegiac melody, such as only Rachmaninoff could write – so it is hardly surprising that none other than Vladimir Horowitz regularly performed the work in his concerts and recorded it several times.
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Sergei V. Rachmaninoff (1873 – 1943) first turned his attention to the genre of the piano etude in 1911, the year a fter bringing to completion his large cycle of 24 Préludes, composed over several years. Between 1911 and 1917 he wrote two self-contained sets of etudes, op. 33 and 39, under the title Études-Tableaux. They reveal his progression towards a greater … more
About the composer
Composer and pianist who continued and expanded the late-Romantic tradition; he prepared the way for Prokofiev and Shostakovich. His oeuvre comprises orchestral works, piano pieces, choral works, several operas, and numerous songs.
|1873||Born in Semyonovo on April 1. From 1880 receives professional instruction in music.|
|1885–92||Studies music at the Moscow Conservatory.|
|1890–92||Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor, Op. 1, with the diminished fourth in the main theme typical of his style.|
|1892||Successful performance of his one-act opera “Aleko” (a graduation work). Prelude in C-sharp minor for piano.|
|1897||Unsuccessful premiere of the Symphony No. 1, Op. 13 (with abrupt contrasts). First experiences as an opera conductor at Moscow’s Mamontov Theater. He becomes acquainted with Fyodor Shalyapin, later his friend.|
|1900/01||Composition of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, in a modified style (broad melodic arcs, transparent compositional style).|
|1904–06||Appointed conductor at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.|
|1906||Premieres of the operas “The Miserly Knight,” Op. 24, and “Francesca da Rimini,” Op. 25.|
|1907||Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27, with whimsical figuration in the woodwinds; Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28.|
|1909||Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30; symphonic poem “The Isle of the Dead,” Op. 29|
|from 1910||More complex compositional technique (enhanced polyphony, ambiguous harmonies, fast rhythmic alterations) in Thirteen Preludes for piano, Op. 32; “Études-tableaux,” Op. 33 (1911); Fourteen Songs, Op. 34 (1910–16).|
|1917||Rachmaninoff leaves Russia and lives in Stockholm, Copenhagen, the United States (career as pianist), and Switzerland.|
|1926/41||Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40. In 1935/36, Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44.|
|from 1939||He emigrates permanently to the United States.|
|1943||Death in Beverly Hills on March 28.|
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