Sergei Rachmaninoff

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, op. 18

            Those who create art, whether in the performing arts or in the visual arts, inevitably find their personal “niche” in matters of style.  And it is of little consequence whether or not their artistic orientation is a conscious personal choice, or one seemingly imposed by their audiences and by professional critics.   Simply put, there are artists whose voice naturally is to work within tradition and commonly-understood artistic language; they strive to develop that tradition to new levels of meaning through their own talent and personal vision.   Others make a total commitment to artistic truth arrived at through new voices, new styles, new languages.   Every museum and gallery of art, and every concert hall is testimony to this essential dichotomy.   And it must be admitted,

Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, op. 30

            Like J. S. Bach, who upon his death was looked upon as a more or less old fuddy-duddy (now we know better, of course), Rachmaninoff has borne his share of criticism for having composed in a hopelessly old-fashioned style, long after its relevance.  His compositions are the last major representatives of vivid Russian Romanticism—long after that style was presumed dead and buried.  Yet, like Bach, his musical genius, his talent, and his strong belief in the validity of his art led him to create a legacy that took “old-fashioned-style” to a natural and valid high point of achievement.  While a child of the nineteenth century, he died almost at the midpoint of the twentieth, secure in his success, and secure in the world’s enduring appreciation of his “dated” style.

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in A Minor, op.43

            Those who create art, whether in the performing arts or in the visual arts, inevitably find their personal “niche” in matters of style.  And it is of little consequence whether or not their artistic orientation is a conscious personal choice, or one seemingly imposed by their audiences and by professional critics.   Simply put, there are artists whose voice naturally is to work within tradition and commonly-understood artistic language; they strive to develop that tradition to new levels of meaning through their own talent and personal vision.   Others make a total commitment to artistic truth arrived at through new voices, new styles, new languages.   Every museum and gallery of art, and every concert hall is testimony to this essential dichotomy.   And it must be admitted,

Symphonic Dances, op. 45

            Those who create art, whether in the performing arts or in the visual arts, inevitably find their personal “niche” in matters of style.  And it is of little consequence whether or not their artistic orientation is a conscious personal choice, or one seemingly imposed by their audiences and by professional critics.   Simply put, there are artists whose voice naturally is to work within tradition and commonly-understood artistic language; they strive to develop that tradition to new levels of meaning through their own talent and personal vision.   Others make a total commitment to artistic truth arrived at through new voices, new styles, new languages.   Every museum and gallery of art, and every concert hall is testimony to this essential dichotomy.   And it must be admitted,

Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, op. 27

            Normally, a “Symphony No. 2” implies a considered and thoughtful next step from the composition of a “Symphony No. 1.”  But in the case of Rachmaninoff, it is somewhat of a minor miracle that he was able to muster the strength, courage and interest to produce a second effort in the genre after the debilitating and embarrassing debacle of that of the first.  By the time of his graduation from the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1892—winning a rare “Great Gold Medal”—he had completed his successful first piano concerto, a symphonic poem, and a highly praised opera.  The evergreen Prelude in C# Minor soon followed, along with a spate of other works.  He composed easily and enthusiastically, and soon turned his attention to the composition of his first symphony, No.