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Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (Russian pronunciation:1 April 1873 - 28 March 1943) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music. Early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors. The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff's compositional output. He made a point of using his own skills as a performer to explore fully the expressive possibilities of the instrument. Even in his earliest works he revealed a sure grasp of idiomatic piano writing and a striking gift for melody.
Rachmaninoff was born on 1 April 1873 in Semyonovo, near Great Novgorod, in north-western Russia into a family of the Russian aristocracy, originally of partly Tatar descent, which had been in the service of the Russian tsars since the 16th century. His parents were both amateur pianists. When he was four, his mother gave him casual piano lessons, but it was his paternal grandfather, Arkady Alexandrovich Rachmaninoff, who brought Anna Ornatskaya, a teacher from Saint Petersburg, to teach the 9 year old Sergei in 1882. Ornatskaya remained for two or three years, until the family's house in Semyonovo had to be sold to settle debts and the Rachmaninoffs moved to Saint Petersburg.