Rachmaninov composed his First Symphony in 1895 at the age of just 22 years. It received its first performance on 27th March 1897 at a Russian Symphony Society in St. Petersburg with Alexander Glazunov conducting. The premiere was not well-received, and Rachmaninov himself blamed Glazunov for his lacklustre approach by simply beating time rather than finding the music. Some contemporary reports even suggested that Glazunov was inebriated when he took to the stage! Despite his disappointment of the premiere performance, Rachmaninov never destroyed the score but did leave it behind when he left Russia to settle in the West. It was eventually given up as lost. Alfter the composer’s death a two-piano transcription of the symphony surfaced in Moscow, followed later by the discovery of a set of orchestral parts at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg. In March 1945 the symphony was performed in Moscow and therefore heard for the first time since 1897 premiere. It was a grand success and this led to a new and more enthusiastic evaluation of the work. In March 1948 it received a similarly successful American premiere and the work proceeded to establish itself in the general repertory.
The final movement (Allegro con fuoco) is colourful and grand but not without its darkly contrasting, menacing episodes that intensifies its malevolence. It is a work overflowing with ideas demonstrating a strong, highly individual and self-assured young talent. This brass band transcription makes several cuts, some large and some small, to produce a concert-finisher of sime 6 minutes in length.