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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
composer/1873RachmaninoffSRa6a.jpg

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?)

composer/1887RachmaninoffSra1.jpg

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

composer/1890rachmaninoffchan9451.jpg
 

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

composer/1891rachmaninoffmorceauxsco.jpg
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

composer/1892rachmaninoffAleko.jpg

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

composer/1893rachmaninoffaleko.jpg
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

composer/1894rachmaninoffSRa7a.jpg
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

 
Fantaisie (Tableaux) - Suite No.1 

for two pianos 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?)

composer/Sketch.jpg

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

composer/1901RachmaninoffPianoconcer.jpg

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

composer/1906rachmaninofffrancescasc.jpg

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

 
Symphony No.2 in E minor 

(1906-08) 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

composer/1908rachmaninoffsymphony2sc.jpg

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

composer/1913rachmaninoffpianosonata.jpg

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
composer/1919rachmaninoffvocalisesco.jpg

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
composer/1901RachmaninoffPianoconcer.jpg

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
Symphony No.3 in A minor 

(1935-38) BH

composer/1939RrachmaninoffSra3.jpg

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

Publishers
BH = Boosey & Hawkes

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