Rachmaninov - Concerto No. 2 in C Minor and Its Creation

This clip features Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, performed by Evgeny Kissin with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.  Sir Andrew Davis conducts.

There is an interesting story behind the creation of this famous work. Rachmaninov composed it following a period of deep depression during which he questioned whether he could ever compose again.  Response to his First Symphony - after it was initially performed in St. Petersburg - was extremely negative, sending Sergei Vasilievich into a tailspin.

A brilliant pianist with a famously wide hand span, he began to think performing in concert (or conducting) might be a better career path for him.  Deeply unsettled, he began drinking too much alcohol.  By the end of 1899, he was drinking so much that his hands shook - preventing him from playing the piano.

Recognizing he needed help, Rachmaninov visited a Moscow specialist in "neuro-psychotherapy," named Nikolai Dahl, whom he regularly saw between January and April of 1900.  Dr. Dahl reportedly used hypnosis to break Rachmaninov's lethargy and depression, suggesting to him - during trance therapy - that he should compose a new piano concerto which had been commissioned by a London patron.

The sessions with Dr. Dahl had the desired effect, prompting Sergei Vasilievich to throw himself into his writing.  Composing the 2nd piano concerto, reportedly with great ease, he dedicated it to Dr. Dahl.

Those who do not know Rachmaninov's music will nonetheless recognize parts of this 2nd piano concerto.  It has been used in both film and popular music.

Credits

Video clip online, courtesy BBC's WorldWide Channel at YouTube.

 

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