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In 1873, Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was born into a family clinging to the last vestiges of artistocracy in Russia—the cultured traditions remained, but the money was mostly gone. After some false starts arising from academic laziness, deaths of two sisters from infectious illnesses, and a critical savaging of his First Symphony, Rachmaninoff’s immense musical talents—he was a spectacular pianist and possessed an uncanny ear and musical memory—brought success and wide-spread recognition. Partly drawing inspiration from a simpler setting of the same text by his beloved idol, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff wrote his All-Night Vigil (familiarly known as the Vespers) in a two-week creative burs

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