Sergei Rachmaninoff, the last significant figure of Russian Romanticism and a notable piano virtuoso of his day, was a composer and pianist. He is well known for his piano concerti and the composition Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra (1934). Rachmaninoff was born near Lake Ilmen in the Novgorod area on an estate that belonged to his grandparents. His mother was the daughter of a general, while his father was a former army commander. Until his father squandered the whole family money in dangerous business enterprises and subsequently fled the family, the youngster was set to become an army officer. Sergey's cousin Aleksandr Siloti, a well-known concert pianist and conductor, saw the boy's talent and recommended that he study piano with an acclaimed instructor and pianist Nikolay Zverev in Moscow. Musical history owes one of the grand piano virtuosos of the twentieth century to Zverev's stern disciplinarian care of the kid. Sergey enrolled in the Moscow Conservatory for his general education and theoretical music studies.
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