BiographySergei Rachmaninov's music is so lushly sensual that even the middlebrow Tom Ewell played it in a vain attempt to seduce Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch. While "Chopsticks" turned out to float Miss Monroe's beautiful boat, the rest of us can sink into the plush splendor of Rachmaninov's musical world. A disciple of Tchaikovsky, he was one of the 20th Century's few great composers who stayed true to classical ideals rather than expanding the form. His most famous works, like the exquisite "Vocalise" for example, sound far removed from the avant-garde world of Stravinsky. A brilliant pianist whose massive hands allowed for an expansive reach across the keys, many of Rachmaninov's pieces have become musical decathlons of technical prowess. This was illustrated to sweat-popping effect in the hit film Shine.
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