Sergei Rachmaninov was one of the most prominent composers of the late Romantic era. Born into a family of the Russian aristocracy in 1873, Rachmaninov took up the piano at the age of four, and showed talent early on. He enrolled at the Moscow Conservatory, graduating in 1892, having already composed several piano and orchestral pieces. After the unsuccessful premiere of his First Symphony in 1897, Rachmaninov entered a four-year depression during which he found himself unable to compose. After successful therapy, Rachmaninov was eventually able to come over his writer’s block, completing his Second Piano Concerto, which was received with critical acclaim and won him the Glinka prize for composition.
Over the next period of his life, Rachmaninov conducted at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, before relocating to Dresden, Germany, and touring to the United States for the first time. He relocated to New York following the Russian Revolution, having already made a name for himself here. His busy schedule of piano and conducting performances left him little time to compose, and between his relocation to the United States and his death in 1943, he composed only six works. He was granted American citizenship one month before his death.