Sergei Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

Sergei Rachmaninoff

Perhaps one of Rachmaninoff’s most popular works, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is a work for solo piano featuring Paganini’s 24th Violin Caprice as the theme, with 24 variations on that theme. In the final 25 years of his life, Rachmaninoff completed only six original pieces, in part due to a busy schedule as a touring pianist, and also periodic health problems. He had fled Russia in 1917, and in the 1930s he was able to find stability after building a home for his family on the shores of Lake Lucerne. It was here that he was struck with the inspiration for the Rhapsody, and he worked “literally from morn to night,” in his words, to complete the masterpiece. While the original tune is fairly simple, Rachmaninoff gets creative with the variations, notably the 18th variation which presents the theme in inversion, which changes it from a minor key to a major key, and the orchestration flourishes. It’s our Evening Masterwork tonight at 7: Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini on Classical WSMR.

Air Date: 
Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 7:00pm