Rachmaninov, Sergei Vassiljevitsj

BORN 1 Apr 1873, Veliky Novgorod - DIED 28 Mar 1943, Beverly Hills, California
GRAVE LOCATION Valhalla, New York: Kensico Cemetery, 273 Lakeview Avenue (Katonah Avenue, facing the Actors Fund plot)

Sergei Rachmaninov was born into a noble family. His Tatar family had worked for the Tsar since the 16th century. He was taught the piano by Anna Ornatskaya between 1882 and 1885. Subsequently he studied at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg and in Moscow under Zverev and Siloti, a former pupil of Liszt. When he wrote his first opera "Aleko" he was still a student.

In Moscow Tchaikovsky became his mentor. When he died in 1893 this deeply impressed Rachmaninov. His "First Symphony" was received badly and this caused a depression that lasted three years. In 1900 he met Leo Tolstoy, who didn't like his music. He recovered and started composing again. In 1902 he married his cousin Natalia Satina.

In 1904 he became the conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre, but in 1906 he resigned. He spent time in Germany in the winter to compose and lived in Russia during the summers. In 1909 he gave piano concerts in the USA. In 1911 he helped to launch the career of the singer Ksenia Derzhinskaia and after the death of his friend Alexander Scribian he played only Scribianīs works during a tour. In 1916 he had an affair with the singer Natalia Satina, but his marriage survived.

In 1917 Revolution broke out in Russia and he left for Helsinki with his wife and his daughters. In 1918 he went to the USA where he did a tour becaise he needed the money. In 1921 he bought a house in the USA where he lived like a Russian. In 1928 he met the young Vladimir Horowitz, who played his music in his presence at Carnegie Hall. Their friendship lasted until Rachmaninovīs death. He missed Russia and during the rest of his life he found it hard to compose. He managed to do so during the summers he spent at his house at the Lake of Luzern, where he lived during the summers of 1932 to 1939.

In 1942 he fell ill. He suffered from melanoma and his family was told so, but he didnīt know it himself. In 1943 he became an American citizen. His last performance was on 17 Feb 1943 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He returned to his home in Beverly Hills, where he died on 28 Mar 1943. His request to be buried at his Villa Senar in Switzerland wasnīt fulfilled because of the war and he was buried at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.


The grave of Sergei Rachmaninoff at Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla.
Picture by Androom (11 Apr 2010)


• Reeth, Adelaïde van & Guido Peeters, Herinneringen in Steen, De Haan/Unieboek, Houten, 1988
Wikipedia (EN): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Rachmaninoff

Raddatz, Carl

Published: 22 Oct 2010
Last update: 25 Feb 2022