The Clinton Symphony Orchestra will present their “Youthful Visions” winter concert on Saturday, February 9, 7:30 pm, Morrison IL High School Auditorium. Please enjoy the following program notes about Sergei Rachmaninoff  and his work Vocalise, Op.34, No.14.


Vocalise is the fourteenth song in a series of fourteen published by composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) in 1915. Originally composed in 1912, Rachmaninoff revised the piece in 1914 (at age 41) before its publication in 14 Songs, Op 34. Unlike the other thirteen songs in the collection, Vocalise has no text, but utilizes a wordless vocalization from the soloist, and of the vocalist’s choosing. As Rachmaninoff explained to soprano Antonina Nezhdanova, “What need is there of words, when you will be able to convey everything better and more expressively than anyone could with words by your voice and interpretation?” Some critics have questioned Rachmaninoff’s decision to cast the song without words, as Nezhdanova herself did, but others have proposed that

Like Mendelssohn, Rachmaninoff felt that not all music required text to convey intense emotion; rather, the absence of … is one of the contributing factors to its immense emotional intensity and sorrow.

Rachmaninoff and Nezhdanova premiered Vocalise on January 24, 1916. After the premiere, the composer arranged the piece for orchestra and soprano and for orchestra alone. In the years since its composition, others have also arranged the work for a variety of combinations of instruments. ~Program notes by William Driver

Vocalise, Op.34, No.14 – Program Notes

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