Sergei Rachmaninoff was born on April 1, 1873, on a large estate near the ancient city of Novgorod, Russia. His father was an army officer and his mother was a wealthy heiress. His father gambled, drank, and squandered his wife's money. He deserted his family when Sergei was nine years old.
By all accounts Young Sergei was a problem child, but had an extraordinary talent at the piano. At age nine he entered the College of Music in St. Petersburg. Because of his natural gift, Sergei did not bother to study. To solve his discipline problem Rachmaninoff moved to Moscow to live with Nikolai Zvereff of the Moscow Conservatory. Zvereff was one of the leading music teachers in Russia at the time. In 1892, Rachmaninoff graduated from the conservatory with high honors.
In 1909, Rachmaninoff made his first visit to the United States, receiving an enthusiastic welcome. Afterwards, he visited America once every season. Rachmaninoff died on March 28, 1943, only a few weeks after attaining his American citizenship, and five days before his seventieth birthday. During his career Rachmaninoff wrote 145 compositions, including piano concertos and symphonies.