Revision Process in Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-Sharp Minor, Opus 1

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This book provides an illuminating and detailed look at the triumphs and difficulties faced by this great composer, both personal and professional, not often revealed in other sources. Included are citations from a number of sources (mostly interviews from periodicals of the day) that are no longer generally available or commonly quoted.

The central focus of this collection of writings is a detailed study of the First Piano Concerto in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1, based upon three sources: the composer’s personal manuscript copy of the original version in full score (1890-91), which remains in the permanent collection of the New York Public Library; an intermediate revision completed during the October uprising of 1917 in the Soviet Union inexplicably issued (though never previously approved by the composer for publication) in 1965 by the (Soviet) State Publishing House; and the final version of 1919, as it is commonly performed (approved and proofread prior to publication). The latter was published in New York by Boosey & Hawkes. Applying quantitative analysis as a fundamental approach, the study demonstrates that Rachmaninoff’s writing (including the orchestrations) tended toward thinner, more transparent textures as his style continued to evolve.

For the Rachmaninoff enthusiast, this volume serves as a ready and convenient source of readings on a variety of topics. Illustrated with a wealth of examples from a myriad of sources, it is hoped this work will prove useful and a welcome addition to the literature currently available on this great composer.


“ ... In this work, Dr. Morley Grossman, demonstrating an edifying devotion to Rachmaninoff’s music and humble dedication as a scholar, explores in revealing detail the pains the composer went to in revising his First Piano Concerto. The result is an illuminating exploration of the concerto and Rachmaninoff’s revision methods ... [Rachmaninoff’s] music has suffered from much negative criticism over the years, and yet any serious study cannot fail to reveal his natural gift for melodic idiom and the sophistication of his harmonic structure ... I recommend it very highly to anyone wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the composer’s work.” – (from the Foreword) Vladimir Ashkenazy, President, Rachmaninoff Society

“ ... From the concise but very well-written biography of Rachmaninoff right into the extraordinary examples he was able to find in the development of Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto, this book is a revelation! It seems that after years of research, Dr. Grossman has come up with a gem of a book, and one that is ‘must reading’ for any pianist who has an interest in the development of the composer’s four concerti or the rhapsody ...” – Dr. James Mathis, American Institute of Musical Studies

“Dr. Morley Grossman’s book on the great Russian composer Rachmaninoff, though pinpointing the composer’s original score and revisions of the First Piano Concerto, Op. 1, runs the gamut of the composer’s own life and the characteristic growth and vision of his own compositional style. Perhaps one of Dr. Grossman’s source quotes best sums it up: ‘Rachmaninoff’s last works suggest a sincere attempt at stylistic revaluation in terms of an age that was leaving him behind ...” – Professor John Raimo, University of Texas

Table of Contents

List of Examples
List of Tables
Foreword by Vladimir Ashkenazy
1. Rachmaninoff’s Life and Style
2. Background and Derivative Works
3. A Study of the First Concerto and its Revisions
Abbreviations, Symbols and Approach
Appendix I: Rachmaninoff’s Composition without Opus Number
Appendix II: Motivic Index

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