Thursday, December 10, 2015

Rachmaninoff's Etudes-Tableaux

Though not considered an innovative composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff had a knack for keeping the traditional in music fresh. His music combines Western influences with those of his native Russia. Though he made his primary living as a pianist, his compositional output is outstanding, ranging from works for piano, orchestra, and voice!

It is understandable why Rachmaninoff favored the piano in many of his compositions. He did not enjoy writing in a complex way, excluding other musicians. Rather, he made it a goal to explore the piano’s full capacity. One example is his Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 33 and 39 that he likely performed as showpieces. The first set of etudes (Op. 33) was completed in 1911 and the second (Op. 39) in 1917. Sadly, neither set was published during his lifetime. Listen below and note how they display the composer’s passion for the piano and its potential:

What is your favorite of Rachmaninoff’s piano works?

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