[7] Due to the speed and the large leaps on the piano, the 24th and last variation of the rhapsody presents considerable technical difficulty for the pianist. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. • Rachmaninoff's Works for Piano and Orchestra An analysis of Rachmaninoff's works for piano and orchestra, including the Piano Concertos and the Paganini Rhapsody The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. The Dies Irae was a medieval chant from the traditional Catholic mass for the dead that described the “day of wrath,” the last judgment at the end of the world. At this point, Rachmaninoff tells us, “Paganini himself makes his first appearance…” The following variations offer the piano soloists many opportunities for virtuoso display, reflecting Paganini’s own legendary skill. Explore the 2020–21 season and purchase your subscription today! In 1939, Michel Fokine wrote to Rachmaninoff from Auckland, New Zealand, where he was touring, seeking the composer's approval to use Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for his ballet Paganini, which he had almost finished choreographing. Emerging as a solo for piano alone after a dark and mysterious variation, this love theme is in fact closely derived from an inversion of Paganini’s original melody. [4] Variations II to VI recombine elements of the theme. Don’t miss Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini November 17, 18 & 19, 2017 at Jones Hall. In his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Rachmaninoff composed a concertante work for solo piano and orchestra consisting of 24 variations on the theme. This document explores the use of the theme from Paganini's 24 th Caprice and the Dies Irae in Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. Required fields are marked *. A grueling performance schedule, periodic health problems and homesickness made composing increasingly difficult, and the less than enthusiastic reception of his Fourth Piano Concerto, his first composition in exile, only fed his doubts and self-criticism. Fokine wanted to make a minor change to the score, involving the reuse of 12 earlier measures as a more theatrically effective introduction to the 18th Variation, which he wanted to play in the key of A major, rather than D♭ major. 1 & 2; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini", "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Introduction and 24 Variations), for piano & orchestra in A minor, Op. The public response was so overwhelming that Rachmaninoff was taken aback, saying “It somehow looks suspicious that the Rhapsody has had such an immediate success with everybody.” He had nothing to fear however; the Rhapsody has been a cornerstone of the repertoire ever since. One should perhaps take Rachmaninoff’s narrative with a grain of salt, however; the sphinxlike composer could be so private regarding his inner thoughts that sometimes what he publicly said about a piece was merely a cryptic clue to the true source of inspiration. The ensuing variations become increasingly demonic, with one featuring the strings playing col legno (with the wood of the bow), an especially creepy effect. In his ballet scenario, Rachmaninoff tells us “All variations on the Dies Irae would be for the evil spirit…The first appearance of the evil spirit is in the 7th variation, where at #19 there can be a dialogue with Paganini during his theme as it merges with the Dies Irae.” Here the music slows, and we hear the piano play a simple, chordal version of the dies irae, accompanied by bassoons and pizzicato cellos. Check back soon for our next post, which details Rachmaninoff’s secret program for this concert hall staple. The pop song "If I Had You" by The Korgis uses the melody fragment from the 18th variation. 24 for solo violin as the inspiration for an ingenious theme and variations for piano and orchestra. 3, at #19 there can be a dialogue with Paganini, Variation 11 begins softly with tremolo strings, a grotesque parody of the triumphant Dies Irae, Playliszt: 10 Great Pieces by Music’s Original Rock Star. Even during his life, a legend that he had sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his preternatural abilities became so widespread that the Catholic Church refused him burial service upon his death. Sergei Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Variation 18) Context. Ingeniously, Rachmaninoff discovered that the Dies Irae was related to Paganini’s theme in such a way that the one could be a variation of the other. Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory, "International Music Score Library Project – Rachmaninoff:Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op.43", "Rachmaninov – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini notes", "A Guide to Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini", https://imslp.org/wiki/Rhapsody_on_a_Theme_of_Paganini,_Op.43_(Rachmaninoff,_Sergei), https://www.roh.org.uk/news/rachmaninoffs-dark-side-can-great-artistry-exist-without-the-agony-of-perfectionism, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c33q87s03h4, "DANCE - Is There a Ballet In Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances? Rachmaninov (1873-1943) - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Rachmaninov admitted he was much influenced by both Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky. In any case, the legend likely sold more tickets. 2; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini", "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. How I wish I could see you, to tell you more fully about all this—if my ideas and subject seem interesting and of value to you.” Contrary to Rachmaninoff’s fears, Fokine was intrigued, and ultimately did turn the Rhapsody into a ballet which met with great success at its 1939 London premiere, although the scenario diverged somewhat from what Rachmaninoff proposed. Stephen Hough performs Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Lutosławski's Variations on a Theme by Paganini on the opening night … The Rhapsody begins with a short introduction that unexpectedly leads not to the theme, but to the first variation: a pared-down outline of Paganini’s melody: This unconventional beginning was likely inspired by the finale of Beethoven’s Symphony No. A Baroque Christmas: Q&A with Guest Vocalist Morris Robinson. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op.43 (. 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