Rachmaninoff’s parents both played the piano. His mother started teaching him how to play when he was four years old. When he was nine, a piano teacher from
Rachmaninoff got a scholarship to attend the conservatory (college of music) in
In Moscow Rachmaninoff lived in the home of his piano teacher Nicolai Zverev. Zverev was very strict. It was just this strictness, however, that got Rachmaninoff to focus on music. Rachmaninoff later said that Zverev taught him how to stop being lazy.
Rachmaninoff was outstanding in both playing the piano and writing music. While at school in
At this time Rachmaninoff also composed his First Piano Concerto and a set of compositions for piano called Morceaux de fantaisie (1892). Included in this set was the “Prelude in C Sharp Minor.” Copies of this prelude sold widely in
While studying music in
Rachmaninoff graduated from Moscow Conservatory in 1892. He shared the gold medal for piano with two other students.