GSCC Member Event
Rachmaninoff's Divine LiturgyA masterpiece of Russian sacred music
Sergei Rachmaninoff composed two major a cappella choral works—the “Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom” and the “All-Night Vigil”—that displayed his Orthodox faith in a manner that was innovative and fresh. In 1910 he turned to the sacred service of his church and with amazing speed composed the monumental “Divine Liturgy.” Afterward he said, “Not for a long time have I written anything with such pleasure."
Less well-known is Rachmaninoff’s early choral work, “Concerto for Choir,” written in 1893. It was both a culmination of a great tradition and a starting point for so much of what followed in Russia. Such “concertos” were popular in the eighteenth century as additions to the Orthodox divine service.
The “Three Sacred Hymns” from the Orthodox liturgy were composed in 1983 by Alfred Schnittke. The Russian conductor Valery Polyansky had requested an a cappella work for his choir, and though at first Schnittke seemed reluctant, he apparently woke in the middle of the night and wrote down these three pieces, and handed the manuscript to Polyansky the following day. The work was only published posthumously.
“Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Op. 31” by Sergei Rachmaninoff
“Concerto for Choir, The Grave and Death Could Not Hold the Mother of God” by Sergei Rachmaninoff
“Three Sacred Hymns” by Alfred Schnittke