"What We're Listening To" - Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini"
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor during the late Romantic period. He is still regarded today as one of the major composers of the twentieth century. He began playing piano at age four, and by the time he had graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1892 he had already composed several pieces for piano and orchestra. He was heavily influenced by composers Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, two widely popular Russian composers. Rachmaninoff is known for his melodies, his expressiveness, and his use of rich orchestral colors.
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He has been celebrated as the best violin virtuoso of his time, and heavily influenced modern violin technique. He is most commonly known for his 24 Caprices for Solo Violin. Paganini composed his own works for him to play exclusively in all of his performances. His works were technically creative and expanded the timbre and the known ability of the violin. Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is based on Paganini’s 24th Caprice.
Included below is a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra featuring Daniil Trifonov on piano.