Often regarded as the last colossus of Russian romanticism, Sergei Rachmaninov enjoyed an unparalleled career as a composer, conductor, virtuoso pianist, and recording artist. A student of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, his output contains some of the seminal works of the early twentieth century, including Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934), and the Symphonic Dances (1940).
Written in 1912 as the last of his Fourteen Songs, Op. 34, the work does not contain any words; instead it is sung with one vowel of the performer’s choosing. Dedicated to the Russian lyric soprano Antonina Nezhdanova, its universal expressivity has seen it become one of the most famous classical works of all time, with a myriad of arrangements for various solo instruments.