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Document Details :
Title: Sergei Rachmaninoff and the Traditional Chants
Author(s): SOLOVIOVA, Tatiana
Journal: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Volume: 62 Issue: 1-2 Date: 2010
This article explores the importance that the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, attached to traditional Christian chants: the Latin Dies Irae and the chants of the Russian Orthodox Church. No other composer in European music has used the traditional chants (particularly Dies Irae) to such an extent as Rachmaninoff. The author based her research on a wide range of sources: Rachmaninoff’s letters and interviews; contemporaries’ and relatives’ memoires; and articles on his music. The musical sources are used to draw conclusions about the personal and musical temperament of the composer. For Rachmaninoff, the dukhovnaya storona (spiritual dimension) of music was always of great importance. His music was an expression of his philosophy of life and the chants were used as idiosyncratic devices to help transmit his message. The fear of death and the vanity of life, the grief and pain of humanity, the struggle of good and evil, and the victorious triumph of Light over death – all these messages of Rachmaninoff’s music can be understood by listeners so much better once one can see the meaning of the chants for the composer and the reasons for his extensive use of chant like material.