Sergei Rachmaninov (1873 - 1943)
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op.43
Described as one of Rachmaninov's 'most inventive' and 'fascinating' works, the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, was composed in an intense flurry between early July and mid-August, 1934. Rachmaninov himself performed the work at its première with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on November 11, 1934.
The Theme was derived from the last of Paganini's 24 Caprices, Op.24, and had also been used on a previous occasion by Brahms, in his own Paganini Variations, Op. 35. The work falls into three distinct sections, Variations 1-10 forming a 'first movement', Variations 11-18 acting as a slow middle movement, and the final 19-24 Variations a dazzling finale.