The Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27, is a symphony by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, written in 1906–07 which puts it in the late Romantic period.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, virtuoso pianist, and conductor. Following criticism of his first attempt at writing a symphony he suffered badly from depression. Fortunately, successful therapy allowed him to rediscover his love for music. His Symphony No.2 was composed in Dresden, Germany, where he and his family lived for almost four years from 1906. Rachmaninoff lacked confidence in his writing and it is said that he was very unhappy with the first draft of this piece. However, after months of revision he finished the work and conducted the premiere in 1908 to great applause and it has remained one of the most popular of all of his works. An excellent example of resilience and growth-mindset!

Sergei Rachmaninoff in 1921

A symphony is a long piece of music, in three or four movement, for a full orchestra.

This symphony was originally scored for full orchestra with 3 flutes (the 3rd doubling on piccolo), 3 oboes (the 3rd doubling on cor anglais), 2 clarinets in A and B♭, bass clarinet in A and B♭, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, glockenspiel, and strings.

The symphony is in four movements:

  1. Largo — Allegro moderato (E minor)
  2. Allegro molto (A minor)
  3. Adagio (A major)
  4. Allegro vivace (E major)

Today’s extract is from the second movement.

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