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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Sunday, January 3

Rachmaninoff dances

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1941, the final orchestral work of the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff received its premiere performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Eugene Ormandy.

It was an orchestral suite, entitled “Symphonic Dances,” and was originally planned as a triptych depicting the passage of time, with its three sections to be titled: Midday, Twilight, and Midnight. For this new work, Rachmaninoff recycled some music from older one: an unfinished ballet from 1915.

Rachmaninoff was an unabashed and unrepentant Romantic at heart, with his musical style grounded very much in the late 19th century tradition. Oddly enough, in all other matters Rachmaninoff was very modern — even trendy. When living in Russia, he owned the first automobile in his rural part of the country. After settling in Switzerland, the home he built on Lake Lucerne was designed in the ultra-modern Bauhaus style, and Rachmaninoff liked to zoom around the lake in a snappy little speedboat.

And, when in New York City, rather than sipping borscht at the Russian Tea Room, Rachmaninoff would more likely be seen at a corner drug store, indulging in a quintessential American treat: ice-cream sodas.

Music Played in Today's Program

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873 - 1943) Symphonic Dances Minnesota Orchestra; Eiji Oue, cond. Reference 96

Additional Information

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