Vocalise (Rachmaninoff)

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Beginning of the score, transposed into E minor

"Vocalise" is a song by Sergei Rachmaninoff, composed and published in 1915 as the last of his 14 Songs or 14 Romances, Op. 34.[1] Written for high voice (soprano or tenor) with piano accompaniment, it contains no words, but is sung using only one vowel of the singer's choosing (see also vocalise). It was dedicated to soprano singer Antonina Nezhdanova. It is performed in various instrumental arrangements more frequently than in the original vocal version.


Although the original publication stipulates that the song may be sung by either soprano or tenor voice, it is usually performed by a soprano. Though the original composition is in the key signature of C-sharp minor, it is sometimes transposed into a variety of keys, allowing a performer to choose a vocal range more suitable to the natural voice, so that artists who may not have the higher vocal range of a soprano can perform the song.


"Vocalise" has been arranged for many instrumental and vocal combinations. Examples are:

For/with orchestra[edit]

also by Zoltán Kocsis

For chamber ensemble[edit]

For solo instrument and piano[edit]

For solo instrument[edit]


Derivative works[edit]

Richard Smallwood adopted the main theme of "Vocalise" as the basis for his composition "The Resurrection", the final cut on The Richard Smallwood Singers' debut recording in 1982. The Pet Shop Boys song "Happiness Is an Option" on their 1999 album Nightlife incorporates a large portion of the "Vocalise" melody in each verse, performed on oboe as background material beneath the spoken text.


  1. ^ "What's new on Sergei Rachmaninoff's 'Vocalise'". G. Henle Verlag. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  2. ^ Wallace, Roger (22 May 2018). "Days of Future Past With Thorwald Jørgensen and Friction Quartet". San Francisco Classical Voice. Retrieved 4 December 2020.

External links[edit]