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Sergei Rachmaninoff Timeline

A year by year alignment of Rachmaninoff's life and works
Biographical information by Geoffrey Norris

The chronological list of works indicates the publisher of each work and provides links for further information on those published by Boosey & Hawkes


 

Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff, born at Oneg, near Novgorod, 20 March (1 April, new calendar style)


1873

 

Begins studies at St Petersburg Conservatory, remaining there until 1885


1882
 

Moves to Moscow, where he starts piano lessons with Nikolay Zverev


1885
Piece (Canon) for piano solo (1884 or 1891?)


Begins composing first piano pieces: 3 Nocturnes, a Romance, Prelude, Melodie and Gavotte

1887
Study in F# for piano solo (1886?)
 


 
Songs without Words for piano solo (1887?)
 


 
4 Pieces for piano solo
 


 
Romance for violin and piano (1880s)
 


 
Scherzo in D minor for orchestra
 


 
3 Nocturnes for piano solo (1887-88)
 

Enters Alexander Ziloti’s piano class at the Moscow Conservatory. Also studies counterpoint with Sergey Taneyev and harmony with Anton Arensky


1888
First Quartet for string quartet (unfinished) (1889-90)
 

Starts writing Piano Concerto No.1 and begins work on the 6 Songs published as op.4


1890
6 Songs for voice and piano Op.4 (1890-93) BH
 



 
Lied (Romance) for cello & piano
 


 
Again you leapt, my heart Song for high voice and piano (1890?)
 


 
Melody on a theme by S Rachmaninoff for cello or violin and piano
 


 
Deus Meus for unaccompanied mixed chorus
 


 
2 songs for bass voice and piano
 

Composes the two-piano Rhapsodie russe. Graduates from piano section of the Moscow Conservatory. Completes Piano Concerto No.1 and the tone poem Prince Rostislav



1891
Rhapsodie russe for two pianos
 


 
 


 
Prince Rostislav Symphonic poem for large orchestra
 


 
2 Pieces for piano six hands (1890-91)
 


 
Manfred Symphonic poem for orchestra (1890-91)
 


 
Two Monologues from Pushkin’s ‘Boris Godunov’ Recitatives for bass voice and piano (1891?)
 


 
Arbenin’s Monologue from Lermontov’s ‘Masquerade’ Recitative for bass voice and piano (1891?)
 


 
2 Songs for high voice and piano
 


 
Prelude in F for piano solo
 


 
Symphony No.1 in D minor  (1st movement completed) BH
 


 
Russian Boatmen’s Song (before 1892)
 


 
Morceaux de salon for cello and piano (1891-92?) BH


In Moscow gives premiere of Piano Concerto No.1 (first movement), composes Trio élégiaque in G minor and Prelude in C# minor. Graduates in composition, gaining the highest possible mark, 5+, for the opera Aleko, and wins the conservatory’s Great Gold Medal

1892
Trio élegiaque for piano, violin and cello
 


 
Prelude in C sharp minor for orchestra BH
 


 
Aleko Opera in one act BH
 


 
Morceaux de fantaisie for piano BH
 

At the Bolshoy Theatre, Aleko has its premiere and is warmly praised by Tchaikovsky. Rachmaninoff composes the orchestral fantasy The Rock, the 6 Songs Op.8, and Trio élégiaque in D minor, prompted by Tchaikovsky’s death



1893
The Rock Fantasy for Orchestra
 


 
6 Songs for voice and piano Op.8 BH
 


 
Trio élegiaque for violin, cello and piano (1893, rev.1907) BH
 


 
Morceaux de salon for violin and piano BH
 


 
O Mother of God, vigilantly praying Sacred Concerto (Motet) for unaccompanied chorus
 


 
3 Songs for voice and piano
 

Completes Morceaux de salon op.10 for piano, Six Morceaux op.11 and the orchestral Caprice bohémien



1894
Morceaux de salon for piano solo (1893-94) BH
 


 
6 Morceaux for piano duet BH
 


 
Caprice bohemien for orchestra, or piano (four hands) (1892/4) BH
 


 
 


 
Chorus of Spirits for unaccompanied mixed chorus
 


 
Song of the Nightingale for mixed chorus and piano
 


 
Two episodes à la Liszt after Byron’s ‘Don Juan’ for orchestra
 


 
Romance for piano duet (1894?)


Starts composing Symphony No.1, Moments musicaux op.16 for piano and the 12 Songs op.14

1895
 


 
6 Moments musicaux for piano (1896)
 


 
12 Songs for voice and piano (1894-96) BH
 


 
6 Choruses (1895-96)
 


 
Second Quartet for string quartet (unfinished) (1896 or 1913)
 

Symphony No.1 has a disastrous premiere in St Petersburg, conducted by Glazunov. Rachmaninoff accepts a post as conductor of the Moscow Private Russian Opera Company


1897
 

Makes his international concert debut at Queen’s Hall in London, conducting The Rock and playing the Elégie and Prelude in C# minor from Op.3


1899
2 Pieces for piano solo
 


 
Were you hiccupping Song for bass voice and piano
 


 
Two Russian Songs for voice and piano (No.2 lost)
 

Begins work on Piano Concerto No.2 and the two-piano Suite No.2. In Moscow gives premiere of the concerto’s second and third movements


1900
Night Song for medium voice and piano


Completes Suite No.2 and Piano Concerto No.2, performing the complete concerto in Moscow in the autumn. Composes Cello Sonata

1901
Suite No.2 for 2 pianos (1900-01) BH
 


 
 


 
Pantelei the Healer for unaccompanied mixed chorus BH
 


 
Cello Sonata in G minor for cello and piano BH
 

Marries his cousin, Natalya Satina; composes the cantata Spring and 12 Songs op.21


1902
Spring Cantata for baritone solo, chorus and orchestra BH
 


 
12 Songs  (1900-02) BH
 

The Rachmaninoffs’ first daughter, Irina, is born Composes Chopin Variations and completes 10 Preludes op.23

1903
Variations on a theme of Chopin for piano (1902-03) BH
 


 
Ten Preludes for piano (1901/03) BH
 


 
The Miserly Knight Opera in three scenes (1903-05) BH
 

Signs contract to conduct opera at the Bolshoy Theatre


1904
Francesca da Rimini Opera in two scenes, with epilogue and prologue (1904-05) BH


His appointment at the Bolshoy urges him to finish two operas on which he had recently been working: Francesca da Rimini and The Miserly Knight. Conducts the premieres at the Bolshoy. Since his youth, Rachmaninoff had spent many summers at the Satins’ country estate at Ivanovka. This summer he finishes there the 15 Songs op.26. In the autumn the family decides to spend some time in Dresden, to free the composer from the pressures of Moscow. Begins work on Symphony No.2 in Dresden.

1906
Italian Polka for piano duet (1906?) Version for solo piano (Ziloti) BH
 


 
15 Songs for voice and piano BH
 


 
 


 
Monna Vanna (unfinished opera)
 

A second daughter, Tatyana, is born at Ivanovka


1907
 

Conducts premiere of Symphony No.2 in St Petersburg


1908
Letter to KS Stanislavsky from SR for bass voice and piano BH


In Dresden completes the symphonic poem The Isle of the Dead; at Ivanovka writes Piano Concerto No.3, in time to give its premiere during his first American tour in the autumn

1909
The Isle of the Dead Symphonic poem for orchestra BH
 


 
 

Back in Russia he writes the choral Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and the 13 Preludes op.32


1910
The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for chorus a capella BH
 


 
Thirteen Preludes for piano BH
 

Takes charge of the estate at Ivanovka, and there composes the Études-tableaux op.33


1911
Polka de WR for piano BH
 


 
8 Etudes-Tableaux for piano BH
 


 
14 Songs (including 'Vocalise') (1912) BH


In Rome starts work on the choral symphony The Bells, which, together with Piano Sonata No.2, he completes at Ivanovka

1913
The Bells for soprano, tenor, and bass soloists, chorus and orchestra BH
 


 
 
Piano Sonata No.2 in B minor (1913,rev.1931) BH
 

Composes All-night Vigil (Vespers)


1915
All-night Vigil (Vespers) for chorus a capella BH
 


 
From the Gospel of St John for bass voice and piano (1914-15?)
 

Composes 6 Songs op.38 and some of the Études-tableaux op.39 (completed 1917)


1916
6 Songs for voice and piano BH
 


 
9 Etudes-tableaux (1916-17) BH
 


 
Two Sacred Songs for high voice and piano
 

Anxious to leave Russia after the October Revolution, he accepts an invitation to give concerts in Stockholm. Revises Piano Concerto No.1. Leaves Russia at the end of December, never to return


1917
Three Pieces for piano solo
 

From Stockholm the family moves to Copenhagen. In November they sail to America


1918


Rachmaninoff begins a new full-time career as a concert pianist, undertaking extensive tours every season from now on

1919
Vocalise arranged for voice and orchestra BH
 

Signs his first recording contract with the Victor Talking Machine Co. (later RCA)


1920
 

Makes his first recording of Piano Concerto No.2


1924
 

He establishes the Tair publishing house in Paris, the name deriving from his two daughters, Tatyana and Irina. Tair publishes several of his own works


1925
 

Completes Piano Concerto No.4 and the Trois Chansons Russes op.41


1926
Piano Concerto No.4 (1913-26) BH
 


 
Piano Concerto No.4 (1913-26) BH
 


 
Trois chansons russes for chorus and orchestra BH
 

Piano Concerto No.4 is unenthusiastically received when Rachmaninoff plays it in March. He withdraws it from the repertory


1927


With the Philadelphia Orchestra records The Isle of the Dead, his orchestral arrangement of the Vocalise, and makes his second recording of Piano Concerto No.2

1929
 

Respighi orchestrates some of the Études-tableaux. The Rachmaninoffs decide to build a villa, Senar, on the shores of Lake Lucerne in Switzerland


1930
 

Revises Piano Sonata No.2

1931
 

The family moves in to the now completed Villa Senar. Composes Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, performing and recording it with the Philadelphia Orchestra


1934
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra BH
 

At Senar he begins work on Symphony No.3


1935


Completes Symphony No.3 (which he revises in 1938), and creates an alternative simplified version of the choral parts for the Presto movement of The Bells for the Sheffield Festival

1936
 

Plays Piano Concerto No.2 in the concert for Sir Henry Wood’s jubilee, 5 October


1938
 

Gives final concerts in England. Has a fall at Senar, and is prevented from attending the Covent Garden premiere of a ballet based on the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. In the USA he records Symphony No.3 and Piano Concertos Nos.1 and 3, with the Philadelphia Orchestra


1939
 

Composes Symphonic Dances


1940
Symphonic Dances for Orchestra (1940) BH
 

Revises Piano Concerto No.4, and records it


1941
 

Gives final concert at Knoxville, Tennessee, on 17 February. Seriously ill, returns to Los Angeles, going first to hospital and then back home to Beverly Hills. He dies there on 28 March. His body is taken back to New York, and buried in Kensico Cemetery


1943

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