Sergei Rachmaninoff

Photo: Public domain

Clickety clack. That’s all Sergei Rachmaninoff heard as he practiced his new Piano Concerto No. 3 in advance of his big American tour, during which he would debut the piece.

That’s because he finished the piece just before departing for the U.S. and didn't leave himself time to practice. He had to make do with practicing on a silent keyboard on the ship. When you hear how fiendishly difficult the piece is, it makes this story even more amazing.

Rachmaninoff composed his Third Piano Concerto, and its twin sister, "The Isle of the Dead," amid the growing dread of war and revolution. 

Host Karla Walker and conductor and lecturer Scott O'Neil walk us through these pieces in Episode 6 of the Great Composers series on RachmaninoffSubscribe so you don't miss an episode.

Featured Music From 'The Great Composers: Rachmaninoff'

Check out this Spotify playlist and explore more than five hours of music featured in this series.