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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)


Begins studies at St Petersburg Conservatory, remaining there until 1885


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

Trio élegiaque 

for piano, violin and cello

Prelude in C sharp minor 

for orchestra BH


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


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

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?)


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

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.

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


Conducts premiere of Symphony No.2 in St Petersburg

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

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

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

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

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)

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)

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


Three Pieces for piano solo

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


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


arranged for voice and orchestra BH

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


Makes his first recording of Piano Concerto No.2


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


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

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


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


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


Revises Piano Sonata No.2


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

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini 

for piano and orchestra BH

At Senar he begins work on Symphony No.3

Symphony No.3 in A minor 

(1935-38) BH


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


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


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


Composes Symphonic Dances

Symphonic Dances 

for Orchestra (1940) BH

Revises Piano Concerto No.4, and records it


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


BH = Boosey & Hawkes

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