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Sergei Rachmaninoff is one of the most popular and performed composers of the 20th century * Studied at the St Petersburg Conservatoire and at the Moscow Conservatoire with Ziloti, Taneyev and Arensky * Graduated on piano in 1891 and in composition the following year with opera Aleko receiving highest grade * Concert debut in London in 1899, as conductor in The Rock and pianist in Elégie and Prelude in C# minor * Premiere of Piano Concerto No.2 in 1901, one of most widely programmed of all concert works * In 1906 conducted operas Francesca da Rimini and The Miserly Knight at Bolshoy * Following decade included many of his most celebrated scores including Symphony No.2, The Isle of the Dead, The Bells and Vespers * Left Russia in 1917 and toured extensively as pianist * Settled in Switzerland in 1934 * Late works included Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Symphonic Dances * Music characterised by memorable soaring melodies, rich orchestration, Romantic chromatic harmonies, distinctive Russian flavour * Piano Concerto No.2 has topped Classic FM's Hall of Fame for five successive years

Works by Sergei Rachmaninoff include:
Piano Concerto No.2 (1901)
Symphony No.2 (1906-08)
The Isle of the Dead (1909) Symphonic poem for orchestra
The Bells (1913) for soloists, chorus and orchestra

Looking Ahead: 150th anniversary of birth in 2023.

"A composer's music should express the country of his birth, his love affairs, his religion, the books which have influenced him, the pictures he loves... My music is the product of my temperament, and so it is Russian music." — Sergei Rachmaninoff

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