Scherzo in D minor (Rachmaninoff)

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Scherzo in D minor is Sergei Rachmaninoff's earliest surviving composition for orchestra, composed when he was a student at the Moscow Conservatory.[1] It is quite short, taking between four and five minutes to play.

The manuscript is dated 5-21 February 1888, when Rachmaninoff was still only 14. An unknown hand has changed this date to 1887.[2] It is dedicated to his cousin Alexander Siloti, and it was intended to be part of a larger work because it is headed "Third movement".

The model for the work is the Scherzo from Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music for Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.[3] Rachmaninoff had earlier transcribed Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony for two pianos, and the Scherzo also has echoes of that work.[4]

The piece is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (B♭), 2 bassoons, horn (F), trumpet (B♭), 2 timpani, violins I, violins II, violas, cellos and double basses.

The first performance of both the Scherzo and another early work, Prince Rostislav,[5] took place in Moscow on 2 November 1945, conducted by Nikolai Anosoff. The Scherzo was published in 1947.


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