Rachmaninoff in Utah: Connections Made by a Piano Teacher

Rachmaninoff in Utah–Connections Made by a Piano Teacher

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by Eleasah Halsmer, Piano Academy Faculty

At Piano Academy, each month is dedicated to a different classical composer. The students learn about their life and music in the theory lab during their piano lessons. Our piano teachers will play songs by the composer of the month each week so you can get familiar with their music. This September we’re spotlighting Sergei Rachmaninoff, who was a romantic era Russian pianist and composer, well known for his piano concertos and solo work. In 1918 he came to the United States, where he would live for the rest of his life. He gave many concerts across the country, including one at the Provo Tabernacle in 1938, which some of the piano students’ grandparents or great grandparents may remember! Ask someone you know who was alive in 1938 if they remember Rachmaninoff. We’d love to hear about it!tab_1983_finished2 sm


George Seide of the Evening Herald said: “Ripping with uncanny dexterity, Rachmaninoff wove musical glories into technically intricate passages of which only those who watched those groomed hands fly might best be aware. … Each immortal composer lived as a distinctive personality in the incarnation by Rachmaninoff’s skill.” After two and a half minutes of applause, he encored the Prelude in C# minor. This piece he wrote as a 19 year old recent graduate of the Moscow Conservatory in 1892, and it has been popular with audiences ever since. Rachmaninoff himself grew to dislike it for having to play it so often!


We doubt you will dislike listening to Rachmaninoff’s music this month, though! Here are a few recordings to listen to–the second is played by Vladimir Horowitz, who was a close friend of Rachmaninoff’s from when they first rehearsed together in 1928. “He swallowed it whole”, Rachmaninoff said.


Photo credit: Wikipedia, mikehendriksen.org