Knowledge Base Article: KB2596
Topic: FAQ - Music Business Questions & Issues

Title: Composer Profile: Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) – Russian Composer Profile and Documentary

Last Reviewed: Jan 07, 2014

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) – Russian Composer Profile and Documentary 
(From Dec 13, 2013 entry at

If you think your life’s tough trying to survive in the music biz, then watch this fascinating film and be glad you were not born in Russia around the time Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) began his vagabond life trying to escape the Bolsheviks – carrying only one bag and his music case, and his wife and two young daughters…

“Rachmaninoff Documentary - The Harvest Of Sorrow” tells the tale of the Russian-born composer, pianist and child prodigy. It begins in the dead of winter in 1917, when Rachmaninoff boards a train with his wife and children from Russia to Stockholm, where he has agreed to play a concert. Then all hell breaks loose -- the Russian Civil War and the Bolsheviks, and later Hitler and the Nazis – as this saga unfolds about a man on-the-run, living in exile in several countries – but always longing to go back home, to recapture the Russia of his youth.

You will enjoy a lot of vintage footage of theatrical performances, gypsy camps, love stories, a dash of pomp, a dollop of opera, and some dramatic war footage -- and of course, Rachmaninoff’s glorious music, including orchestral performance excerpts from “Aleko” (1892), “A Dream” (1893). We also get to hear his dreamy “Symphony No. 1” (1895), composed after the Civil War. Later, we hear his magical “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paginini” (1934), and many others… The music is performed by the Russian National Orchestra and directed by Valery Gergiev, with various pianists playing his endless melodies… Valery Gergiev also serves as narrator, while John Gielgud voices Rachmaninoff's remarkable diaries. The film was directed by Tony Palmer.

For more info about Rachmaninoff life and music, click here: 

And here’s another article of interest with highlights of his life:

We recommend you get a cushy chair, a nice drink, and increase your screen view to 110% -- and hope you enjoy the Rollicking Adventures of one of the most exciting and prodigious composers of all time... 

(From Dec 26, 2013 entry at
Enjoying the post-holiday calm, and we're feasting on Rachmaninoff for a few... Here's Yuja Wang, the gifted 26-year-old Chinese classical pianist, with the Tokyo-based NHK Symphony Orchestra, playing “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.” This was written over an approximate six-week period in 1934 by Rachmaninoff, while he had rented a villa in Switzerland to escape the Bolsheviks

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