Rachmaninoff - Piano Music

Sergey Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff's qualities as a composer were deeply intertwined with his strengths as a pianist: an extremely powerful sound, a strong rhythmic drive, and a tremendous ability to make a melody sing while maintaining perfect clarity and definition in very complex supporting textures. His compositions come across as timeless lyric inspirations, flowing straight from a heart imbued with nostalgia and reaching for ecstasy.

Top Pieces:

Prelude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 3 No. 2

The musical content of this immensely popular Prelude is actually really simple, but so far it hasn’t lost any of its massive effect!

Prelude in G Minor, Op. 23 No. 5

The most played of Rachmaninoff's op 23 Preludes is characterized by its relentless, triumphant marching rhythm and the melting lyricism of the middle section.

Prelude in G-sharp Minor, Op. 32 No. 12

Quieter in character than its C sharp and G minor counterparts, this prelude features a beautiful, elegiac melody in the left hand accompanied by a shimmering right-hand accompaniment.

Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee

Rimsky-Korsakov's The Flight of The Bumblebee has been heard in a thousand versions. Of course, Rachmaninoff has made the ultimate piano arrangement!

Piano Concerto 2 in C Minor, Op. 18

From its bold start, with those iconic, still and heavy solo piano chords, the Second Piano Concerto grows into an epic, rapturous storm of emotion.

Piano Concerto 3 in D Minor, Op. 30

The Third Concerto places huge technical demands on the soloist, but also features subtle lyricism, intricate musical conversation, and glimmering orchestration.


Sergey Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), one of the greatest pianists of all time, possessed an incredible technique marked by precision, clarity, a unique singing quality and a tremendous and overwhelming power. Luckily, there are ample opportunities to study his style from the several recordings he made of both his own and other composers' music. His hands were famously large — he could, with his left hand, play the chord C-E flat-G-C-G. Rachmaninoff studied at the Moscow Conservatory, receiving the gold medal in composition as well as the personal encouragement of Tchaikovsky. In 1895 came his first serious setback: the dismal reception of his first symphony, very badly conducted by a drunk Glazunov. This disaster, coupled with Rachmaninoff’s distress over the church´s objection to his marrying his cousin Natalia, contributed to a time of severe depression, lasting until a course of autosuggestive therapy with the psychologist Nikolai Dahl helped him recovered his confidence.

The composition of the second piano concerto, dedicated to Dr. Dahl, marked the end of this dark period. The concerto had great success at its premiere and has remained one of Rachmaninoff’s best loved works. He was finally allowed to marry Natalia – a union that lasted until the composer´s death – and so the first decade of the twentieth century proved a productive and happy one for Rachmaninoff, resulting in such masterpieces as the second symphony, the tone poem Isle of the Dead, and the third piano concerto.

In 1909, Rachmaninoff made his first tremendously successful American tour. He continued to make his home in Russia but left permanently following the Revolution in 1917; after this, his music was banned in the Soviet Union for several years. His compositional output slowed dramatically, partly because of extensive performing, but mainly because he felt a loss of inspiration when leaving Russia. As he became more and more aware of the fact that he would never again return, he was overwhelmed with melancholia. Most people who knew him later in life described him as the saddest man they had ever known. Rachmaninoff, regarded the last great Russian romantic composer, died in Beverly Hills, California, shortly after becoming an American citizen.

Quotes by Rachmaninoff

“What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love! Music is the Sister of Poetry and her Mother is sorrow!”

"The new kind of music seems to create not from the heart but from the head. Its composers think rather than feel. They have not the capacity to make their works exalt – they meditate, protest, analyze, reason, calculate and brood, but they do not exalt."

"Do not waste your time with music that is trite or ignoble. Life is too short to spend it wandering in the barren Saharas of musical trash."

Quotes about Rachmaninoff

"He had the secret of the golden, living tone which comes from the heart ... I was always under the spell of his glorious and inimitable tone which could make me forget my uneasiness about his too rapidly fleeting fingers and his exaggerated rubatos. There was always the irresistible sensuous charm, not unlike Kreisler's." (Arthur Rubinstein)

"He was the perfect pianist, sans pareil, sans raproche. He was absolutely perfect, flawless, an aristocrat with a high sense of drama and an extraordinary sense of poetry. And he could convey this extraordinary charisma with so little effort. But this golden sound came out of those perfectly programmed fingers. I don’t think I ever heard him make a mistake." (Harold Schonberg)

"He was a six and a half foot scowl." (Stravinsky)

Rachmaninoff Piano Sheet Music

for digital devices or to download & print

Total pieces by Rachmaninoff: 112

TitleKey YearLevel

Most popular pieces:

Prelude Op. 3 No. 2C-sharp Minor 18928
Prelude Op. 23 No. 5G Minor 19018+
Prelude Op. 32 No. 12G-sharp Minor 19108+
Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee A Minor 19318+
Piano Concerto 2 Op. 18C Minor 19018+
Piano Concerto 3 Op. 30D Minor 19098+

All pieces:


Piano Concerto 1 Op. 1F-sharp Minor 18928+
Piano Concerto 2 Op. 18C Minor 19018+
Piano Concerto 3 Op. 30D Minor 19098+
Piano Concerto 4 Op. 40 G Minor 19268+
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43 A Minor 19348+


Sonata 1 Op. 28D Minor 19078+
Sonata 2 Op. 36 B-flat Minor 19138+

Morceaux de Fantaisie Op. 3

1. Élégie E-flat Minor 18928
2. Prelude C-sharp Minor 18928
3. Mélodie E Major 18928
4. Polichinelle N/A 18928+
5. Sérénade B-flat Minor 18928

7 Morceaux de salon Op. 10

1. Nocturne A Minor 18938
2. Valse A Major 18948
3. Barcarolle G Minor 18948+
4. Melody E Minor 18948
5. Humoresque G Major 18945
6. Romance F Minor 18947
7. Mazurka D-flat Major 18948+

Moments Musicaux Op. 16

1. Moment Musical B-flat Minor 18968+
2. Moment Musical E-flat Minor 18968+
3. Moment Musical B Minor 18967
4. Moment Musical E Minor 18968+
5. Moment Musical D-flat Major 18968+
6. Moment Musical C Major 18968+

Preludes Op. 23

1. Prelude F-sharp Minor 19038+
2. Prelude B-flat Major 19038+
3. Prelude D Minor 19038+
4. Prelude D Major 19038+
5. Prelude G Minor 19018+
6. Prelude E-flat Major 19038+
7. Prelude C Minor 19038+
8. Prelude A-flat Major 19038+
9. Prelude E-flat Major 19038+
10. Prelude G-flat Major 19038+

13 Preludes Op. 32

1. Prelude C Major 19108+
2. Prelude B-flat Major 19108+
3. Prelude E Major 19108+
4. Prelude E Minor 19108+
5. Prelude G Major 19108+
6. Prelude F Minor 19108+
7. Prelude F Major 19108+
8. Prelude A Minor 19108+
9. Prelude A Major 19108+
10. Prelude B Minor 19108+
11. Prelude B Major 19108+
12. Prelude G-sharp Minor 19108+
13. Prelude D-flat Major 19108+


Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 1F Minor 19118+
Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 2C Major 19118+
Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 3C Minor 19118+
Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 4D Minor 19118+
Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 5E-flat Minor 19118+
Etudes-Tableau Op. 33 No. 6E-flat Major 19118+
Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 7G Minor 19118+
Etude-Tableau Op. 33 No. 8C-sharp Minor 19118+
Etude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 1C Minor 19178+
Etude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 2A Minor 19178+
Etude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 3F-sharp Minor 19178+
Etude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 4B Minor 19178+
Etude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 5E-flat Minor 19178+
Etude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 6A Minor 19178+
Etude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 7C Minor 19178+
Etude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 8D Minor 19178+
Etude-Tableau Op. 39 No. 9D Major 19178+

Three Nocturnes

Nocturne 1 F-sharp Minor 18888+
Nocturne 2 F Major 18888
Nocturne 3 C Minor 18888+

Four Pieces

1. Romance F-sharp Minor 18878+
2. Prelude E-flat Minor 18878+
3. Melody E Major 18878+
4. Gavotte D Major 18878+


Bach: Prelude E Major 19338+
Bach: Gavotte E Major 19338+
Bach: Gigue E Major 19338+
Bizet: Minuet C Minor 19228+
Kreisler: Liebesfreud C Major 19238+
Kreisler: Liebesleid A Minor 19238+
Mendelssohn: Scherzo G Minor 19338+
Mussorgsky: Gopak G Major 19248+
Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee A Minor 19318+
Schubert: Wohin G Major 19258+
Tchaikovsky: Lullaby A-flat Minor 19418+
Daisies Op. 38 No. 3F Major 19168
Lilacs Op. 21 No. 5A-flat Major 19028+

Works for four hands, six hands, and two pianos

Russian Rhapsody - for two pianos E Minor 18918+
Symphonic Dances - for two pianos Op. 45N/A 19408+
Suite 1 - for two pianos Op. 5 G Minor 18938+
Suite 2 - for two pianos Op. 17 N/A 19018+
6 Duets: Barcarolle - for four hands Op. 11 No. 1G Minor 18948
6 Duets: Scherzo - for four hands Op. 11 No. 2D Major 18948
6 Duets: Russian Theme - for four hands Op. 11 No. 3B Minor 18948
6 Duets: Valse - for four hands Op. 11 No. 4A Major 18948
6 Duets: Romance - for four hands Op. 11 No. 5C Minor 18947
6 Duets: Slava (Glory) - for four hands Op. 11 No. 6C Major 18948+
Romance - for four hands G Major 18944
Italian Polka - for four hands E-flat Major 19068+
Valse - for six hands A Major 18917
Romance - for six hands A Major 18917

Miscellaneous pieces

Piece (Fugue) D Minor 18848
Song Without Words D Minor 18876
Canon E Minor 18917
Prelude F Major 18918+
Suite D Minor 18918+
4 Improvisations (collaborative work) N/A 18967
Fughetta F Major 18998+
Morceau de fantaisie G Minor 18998+
Polka de W. R. A-flat Major 19118+
Oriental sketch B-flat Major 19178+
Prelude D Minor 19178+
Variations on a Theme by Chopin Op. 22C Minor 19038+
Variations on a Theme of Corelli Op. 42 D Minor 19318+

Forum posts about Sergey Rachmaninoff

What Chopin/Liszt/rachmaninoff piece should I learn? by lucasejp
In terms of playing I am grade 8 ABRSM level (if not higher). I am looking to learn a really flashy Chopin/Liszt piece, that at the same tim...

How to get the "liszt technique" by the green piano man
I was watching lisztes amazing paragraphs and I noticed it usually uses the same kind of technique. I think you know what I am talking about...

How was Rachmaninoff 'one of the greatest pianists of his generation' ? by happy notes
How was Rachmaninoff 'one of the greatest pianists of his generation' ?  In other words, what made him so great?  Any thou...

Thoughts on the Music of Enrique Soro by swilliams002
I was wondering what people think of the music of Enrique Soro, the Chilean composer. I've been listening to his music lately, and I'...

Looking for a comprehensive music theory book which pulls absolutely no punches by ranjit
I think I should be able to follow pretty much any explanation when it comes to music theory. So what I'm looking for is a music theory ...

Is Rachmaninoff Romatic? by bwl_13
I hear this is a pretty common question but I'd love to get a discussion going. Would you (personally) consider Rachmaninoff as a romant...

Favourite composers by slurred_beat
Hi all. What are your favourite composers? I really like Rachmaninoff! I think his music sounds very epic, he writes many fast notes and it ...

Interesting fact about Rachmaninoff's hand size by murphdog
I stumbled across this and found it interesting.  Rachmaninoff could cleanly strike a 13th.  This would require a bare minimum han...

Re: Rachmaninov the man by pianolist
I think I posted this story elsewhere on the forum, but it ought to go here as well. Phyllis Sellick (the secondo to Cyril Smith's one...