A study of the two "Trios Elegiaques" of Sergei Rachmaninoff

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)


Music Performance

First Committee Member

Paul Posnak - Committee Chair


The solo piano works, vocal, chamber, duo-piano pieces, and concerti of Sergei Rachmaninoff present a rich and varied treasure of literature for pianists to explore. This paper focuses on Rachmaninoff's two piano trios. Both works contain emotionally charged, dramatic writing for the piano, sharp contrasts of color and texture, and effective solos for the violin and violoncello. While they are not "standard" or frequently performed pieces in the chamber pianist's repertoire, the intent of this essay is to encourage interest in and performance of these beautiful and somewhat neglected trios. One venue that provides an excellent opportunity for this to occur is the numerous chamber music festivals throughout America and abroad. The purpose of this paper is to discuss and illustrate (a) an overview of Rachmaninoff's life and work as a pianist, composer, and conductor, (b) the formal structure and motivic development in these works, (c) the dominating role of the piano part, (d) the selected ensemble concerns inherent in performing these trios, and (e) the similarities between these pieces and Tchaikovsky's A minor trio. This essay also includes a discussion of the character of these words and performances suggestions for the pianist.


Music; Education, Music

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