Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini was his last and at the same time most significant work for piano and orchestra. As a cycle of variations on Paganini’s 24th Caprice from op. 1, it stands in the tradition of the great works on this famous theme by Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms. “It’s something for the audiences”, wrote the reviewer of the New Yorker about one of the first performances of this Rhapsody with the composer at the piano, “the succession of brilliances for the piano, dramatic references to the Dies Irae, wide-open Schmalz for divided strings, and old-fashioned bravura”. Alongside the Second and Third Piano Concertos, this brilliant work today numbers among Rachmaninoff’s most frequently performed compositions.
For this first Urtext edition of the Rhapsody, the editor was able to consult both the autograph held by the Library of Congress and the first edition, the publication of which was supervised by the composer. In addition to the solo part, the piano reduction offers a very playable arrangement of the orchestral setting. Parallel with the present edition, the score and orchestral parts have been published in cooperation with Breitkopf & Härtel.