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Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Piano concerto

The Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, is a concertante work written by Sergei Rachmaninoff for piano and orchestra, closely resembling a piano concerto, all in a single movement. Rachmaninoff wrote the work at his summer home, the Villa Senar in Switzerland, according to the score, from 3 July to 18 August 1934. Rachmaninoff himself, a noted performer of his own works, played the piano part at the piece's premiere on 7 November 1934, at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Rachmaninoff, Stokowski, and the Philadelphia Orchestra made the first recording, on 24 December 1934, at RCA Victor's Trinity Church Studio in Camden, New Jersey. The English premiere on 7 March 1935 at Manchester Free Trade Hall also featured Rachmaninoff with The Hallé under Nikolai Malko.

Instrumentation

The piece is scored for piano and orchestra: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets in B♭, 2 bassoons, 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in C, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, triangle, snare drum, cymbals, bass drum, glockenspiel, harp and strings.

Structure

The piece is a set of 24 variations on the twenty-fourth and last of Niccolò Paganini's Caprices for solo violin, which has inspired works by several composers. The whole composition takes about 22–24 minutes to perform. All variations are in A minor except where noted.

Although Rachmaninoff's work is performed in one stretch without breaks, it can be divided into three sections, as shown above. These correspond to the three movements of a concerto: up to variation 10 corresponds to the first movement, variations 11 to 18 are the equivalent of a slow movement, and the remaining variations make a finale.

The piece is a set of 24 variations on the twenty-fourth and last of Niccolò Paganini's Caprices for solo violin, which has inspired works by several composers. The whole composition takes about 22–24 minutes to perform. All variations are in A minor except where noted

Inversion of the melody

Timeline

Further Resources

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