Rachmaninoff rare photos

Posted by: MarianneAlkonost

Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/06/09 03:38 PM

Good evening!

Hi from Saint-Petersburg, Russia!

Hope to find here friends, that know much about Rachmaninoff and love to collect photos and interesting information about his recitals and biography facts, everything about his music.

I try to find all the rare photos of Rachmaninoff.
I also try searching for rare old records on youtube of the pianists and conductors that were his friends

My choice on youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=MarianneAlkonost&view=favorites

Hope you will like this video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QB6-gT-dt18

This is the most complete video of Rachmaninoff and contains his voice also... Please pass this link forward!

As for the photos, here is my collection:

www.rachmaninow.narod.ru

If you have comment on any photo, please post!

And here is my first question - do you have the list of conductors that conducted while Rachmaninoff was playing?

Here is my list:

1) Bruno Walter (photo on the stage together)
2) Henry Wood (photo on the stage together)
3) Willem Mengelberg (photo on the stage together)
4) Mitropulos
5) Gustav Mahler
6) Ormandy (photo on the stage together)
7) Stokowski
8 ) Josef Stransky (1872-1936)
9) Ernest Ansermet(1883–1969)
10) George Hoberg (1872–1950)
Posted by: Drunk3nFist

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/06/09 04:24 PM

Welcome to Pianoworld forums! Hope you enjoy the stay.

Rachmaninoff is my favorite composer without a shadow of a doubt. Thanks for your photo collection!
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/06/09 05:58 PM

Welcome!

I have been rather obsessed with Rach's music this past year, learning several.

I loved seeing the video of him. Thank you so much for sharing.

Now...can anyone list the music? (Vocalise at the end)

Just checked out your collection of photos as well.

Great!

Are you a pianist as well?

Posted by: gooddog

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/06/09 07:10 PM

That was wonderful! Thank you for sharing the photos. I was looking at Rachmaninoff's hands - they were huge! Makes me jealous.
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/06/09 07:53 PM

Originally Posted By: gooddog
That was wonderful! Thank you for sharing the photos. I was looking at Rachmaninoff's hands - they were huge! Makes me jealous.


Yes they were! Here's a fan that made his own life-size reproduction of Rach's hands:

http://s-ec-sm.buzzfeed.com/static/image...37324696-15.jpg
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/06/09 08:35 PM

Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the forums Marianne! Rachmaninoff is easily tied with Chopin as my favorite composer. cool

Originally Posted By: BJones
Originally Posted By: gooddog
That was wonderful! Thank you for sharing the photos. I was looking at Rachmaninoff's hands - they were huge! Makes me jealous.


Yes they were! Here's a fan that made his own life-size reproduction of Rach's hands:

http://s-ec-sm.buzzfeed.com/static/image...37324696-15.jpg


Not quite that big. grin

I see you purloined Frank's avatar.
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/06/09 10:46 PM

Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the forums Marianne! Rachmaninoff is easily tied with Chopin as my favorite composer. cool

Originally Posted By: BJones
Originally Posted By: gooddog
That was wonderful! Thank you for sharing the photos. I was looking at Rachmaninoff's hands - they were huge! Makes me jealous.


Yes they were! Here's a fan that made his own life-size reproduction of Rach's hands:

http://s-ec-sm.buzzfeed.com/static/image...37324696-15.jpg


Not quite that big. grin

I see you purloined Frank's avatar.


I think we should all use that avatar for this week only, to honor the best piano forum on the net!! smile
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/06/09 10:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the forums Marianne! Rachmaninoff is easily tied with Chopin as my favorite composer. cool


Most don't realize that there's an action figure currently available from CollectionDX of Rachmaninoff, big hands and all, from their famous pianist series:

http://www.collectiondx.com/gallery2/gallery/d/429199-3/27.jpg

grin
Posted by: Tenuto

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 12:17 AM

Welcome, Marianne.

Thanks for your links, photos, videos.

What biography would you recommend reading on Rachmaninoff?


best wishes,
Valerie
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 01:41 AM

Originally Posted By: BJones
[...]I think we should all use that avatar for this week only, to honor the best piano forum on the net!! smile


On the contrary, I think that that avatar should be Frank's and Frank's alone.

Regards,
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 02:14 AM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: BJones
[...]I think we should all use that avatar for this week only, to honor the best piano forum on the net!! smile


On the contrary, I think that that avatar should be Frank's and Frank's alone.

Regards,


I do too but when Thurman Munson flew his plane nose-first right into the tarmac, all of his teammates wore a black armband with number 20 on it, not forever, but just for the remainder of the season, which was only about another month.
It would be a temporary tribute to show our appreciation and to raise awareness of Frank's efforts and this great Forum as well as showing our support for all his efforts! smile
Posted by: dannylux

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 04:28 AM

Thanks very much, MarianneAlkonost.

There are a lot of pics and a few videos of Rachmaninoff at http://www.senar.ru/

For those like me who can't read Russian, click on Фотографии for the pics and Видео for the videos.


Mel
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 06:39 AM

Originally Posted By: dannylux
Фотографии and Видео ...




Looks like the names on my Russian sustenon and Polish Dianabol! wink
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 06:58 AM

Thanks dannylux

I love this one (wonder if it will show up here) of him young and posed at the piano

Posted by: timbo77

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 07:44 AM

Originally Posted By: Tenuto

What biography would you recommend reading on Rachmaninoff?


The most authoritative is that by Barry Martin. It is excellently researched and provides a balanced, well-written survey.

For an honest biography, written not long after Rachmaninoff's death, try that by Victor Seroff. Seroff knew Rachmaninoff and his portrait is a personal and revealing one. I don't think it is in print anymore.

Geoffrey Norris, a leading Rachmaninoff scholar, has written an excellent biography in the Master Musician series.

I would approach Oskar von Rieseman's "Rachmaninoff's Recollections as told to..." with caution. There is some debate as to how accurate these supposed memoirs are. Rachmaninoff is reputed to have remarked that much of it was pure invention on Rieseman's part.
Posted by: TempoPrimo

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 09:16 AM

You might enjoy 'Sergei Rachmaninoff, a lifetime in music', by Bertensson & Leyda. I prefer it to 'Rachmaninoff' by Scott.

I haven't read Barry Martin's book, but I will when I get the chance.
Posted by: Brendan

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 10:45 AM

Great post! I loved seeing those pictures.
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 01:13 PM

Originally Posted By: dannylux
Thanks very much, MarianneAlkonost.

There are a lot of pics and a few videos of Rachmaninoff at http://www.senar.ru/

For those like me who can't read Russian, click on Фотографии for the pics and Видео for the videos.


Mel


Here is the page in Google's translation. smile
Posted by: LJC

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 07:45 PM

MarrianneAlkonost-Thank you for posting and alerting me to these photos and especially the video. Rachmaninoff is my favorite composer, I play his music everyday. I plan to learn every piece he ever wrote for solo piano. I'm probably half way there. I was fortunate to attend the Rachmaninoff Society meeting in New York City Sept 07. We had heard of the videos but could not find out where they were. I met one branch of the Rachmaninoff family, first his great grandson and his brother and then their mother (R's grand daughter) and father. This family owns R's Steinway. Its keys are worn down from all the practice I was told. At the dinner attended by Vladimir Ashkenazy who I was able to speak to alone for a few minutes I also met Ruth Slynchenska who as a child replaced Rachmaninoff in a concert he had cancelled. She then studied with Rachmaninoff for a few weeks. She told me about her conversations with Rachmaninoff. I took a piano lesson from her, so now I am a student of a student of Rachmaninoff.....As for the best book about Rachmaninoff I suggest Rachmaninoff's Recollections as told to Oskar von Riesemann, The MacMillan Company 1934 although I don't know where you can find a copy. I found mine on e bay. It's full of treasures such as Rachmaninoff telling in his own words such things as the support received from Tchaikovsky who was clearly quite fond of R. and a debate he had in Paris over lunch with Alexander Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 09:00 PM

"As for the best book about Rachmaninoff I suggest Rachmaninoff's Recollections as told to Oskar von Riesemann, The MacMillan Company 1934 although I don't know where you can find a copy. I found mine on e bay. It's full of treasures such as Rachmaninoff telling in his own words such things as the support received from Tchaikovsky who was clearly quite fond of R. and a debate he had in Paris over lunch with Alexander Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov."

Oooh...

now I found my source for the book! LOL! (pretty please?)

LJ, did you check out the English translations that Horowitzian posted? Some quotes from letters in there. I just glanced at a few and will probably wait for the next snow day to pour over them.

The internet is great for stuff like this!
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/07/09 09:17 PM

Originally Posted By: lilylady
[...]
The internet is great for stuff like this!


Indeed it is! The site also has Rachmaninoff's recordings. I'm enjoying the Op. 23-5 Prelude right now. cool
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/08/09 12:02 AM

Originally Posted By: Horowitzian
Originally Posted By: lilylady
[...]
The internet is great for stuff like this!


Indeed it is! The site also has Rachmaninoff's recordings. I'm enjoying the Op. 23-5 Prelude right now. cool


One thing I don't understand is why the majority of musicians pose with their hands under, or on their face, like this?:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_3MGxj9PBO68/R45SkLZ5fNI/AAAAAAAAAFE/6k3_fJhAidM/s320/rachmaninoff-bw.gif

http://www.emilgilels.com/photothek/Horovitz%201955.jpg

http://www.classicalarchives.com/images/cpic/pic200/drz000/z037/z037400mm52.jpg

http://www.haverford.edu/musc/liszt.jpg

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Ra6GzhOtg88/SSHCqv-NfsI/AAAAAAAARcY/2ZrOOR78XdU/s400/fag.jpg
Posted by: veem

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/08/09 01:32 AM

laugh Well, don't they all look pensive?

Haha, except for the last one :P
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/08/09 04:25 AM

Originally Posted By: eggsdeee
laugh Well, don't they all look pensive?

Haha, except for the last one :P


I would much prefer that Rach strike a manly pose like he did in this action figure of him, big hands and all, lumbering manacingly towards the piano:

Posted by: landorrano

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/08/09 04:58 AM



Excellent !!!
Posted by: MarianneAlkonost

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/09/09 05:27 AM

Thank you so much for such a warm welcome! I am very gratefull for all you warm words, friends!

lilylady, you are welcome! I studied piano playing only for 7 years, so I am an amateur)
What Rachmaninoff pieces do you play? I think his music makes us love the world and it has incredible faith and strenght

Thanks for the links on Senar site. Of course I know this site and I am proud that in the Photos section there are few dozens of photos only because I told the webdesigners where to take them ;-)

LJC, what a luck to speak with you! I look forward to read more from you, may be it is better to make separate theme! Tell us more about Ruth Slenczynska! How many lessons did you have? What did she say about Rachmaninoff, his music? You are such a lucky man! Do you have her book Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957)? I wish I could read this book and read what she writes there of Rachmaninoff and his music...

I've seen her portrait:



Philharmonic conductor Fritz Berens (L) standing with guest soloist pianist Ruth Slenczynska after performing.

And this debate about colours in music - it's one of my favourite)

Tenuto, as for biography, I like Oskar Risemann's recollection the best. Though of course I collect all the books about him, and later will make more detailed review.
As long as I know we mustn't believe when they say that Rachmaninoff didn't like the book - he didn't like the first edition but rewrote it and even payed for the second edition.

His childhood and early music impressions was greatly influenced by visiting churches in Novgorod and Saint-Petersburg with his grandmother, listening to choirs, bells and sermons...
His teacher of piano - Zverev - was a genious of pedagogy, and taught him how to live - how to work everyday and be serious...
He met great composers and they were his teachers and friends - Tchaikovsky, Rimskiy-Korsakov, Taneev, Arensky, Glazunov. He had great relative and friend who made whatever he could to help him to become a great composer and musician - pianist Alexander Ziloti (the student of Liszt)
He was under great influence of Tchaikovsky music.
He had great love that didn't end in marriage. He married his relative, and had perfect marriage. He worked all his life long, every single day.

And all the same I think we can never understand what kind of people they all were. They respected other people greatly, they knew how to work, work, work and had great faith...

As for the rare photos, please check this topic also:

http://rachmaninoff.org/board/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=381

Have you seen any rare photos of Rachmaninoff? If yes, please post!
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/09/09 05:51 AM

Originally Posted By: MarianneAlkonost

Philharmonic conductor Fritz Berens (L) standing with guest soloist pianist Ruth Slenczynska after performing.



Fritz's profile looks just like Horowitz's! smile
Posted by: timbo77

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/10/09 09:52 AM

Originally Posted By: MarianneAlkonost
Tenuto, as for biography, I like Oskar Risemann's recollection the best. Though of course I collect all the books about him, and later will make more detailed review.
As long as I know we mustn't believe when they say that Rachmaninoff didn't like the book - he didn't like the first edition but rewrote it and even payed for the second edition.


If I remember correctly (I'm in the middle of moving house so don't have the book to hand), Rachmaninoff wrote to Medtner to say that he was disappointed with Oskar Riesemann's book because he appeared to have embellished or invented most of it. Rachmaninoff's views as expressed in this private letter surely carry much more weight than the less-than-ringing endorsement found in the letter signed by Rachmaninoff and addressed to Riesemann. I strongly suspect this was nothing more than a letter written in response to a request from Riesemann himself. Why else is a copy of the latter letter found at the beginning of every printed copy of the book?

So whilst Barry Martin has suggested that this letter suggests that Rachmaninoff cannot have thought the book so bad, I remain cynical. But quite apart from its dubious content (for example, it contains a host of factual errors and inaccuracies), the book is rambling poorly structured -- it is not the place to start learning more about Rachmaninoff's life and music.

I would also point out that Rachmaninoff did not "re-write" the first edition, nor did he himself pay for the second edition. I think this was Riesemann who re-wrote it (Rachmaninoff had nothing to do with that process) and self-published it.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/10/09 10:39 PM

Timbo77--The reason I like this book so much is that there is no doubt that much of it qoutes R. directly. Reading R.'s words has given me a sense for the man that cannot be gained any other way. So maybe there are errors in it. Who knows they could have come from R. himself. Unless he kept a diary of his life even R. would not be able to get everything exactly right.

LL--Of course you may borrow it as long as you play 23/4 for me (as promised). But hold that thought I have a call into someone that might help.

Marianne--Thank you for the photos of Ruth. I note she used an i instead of an a in her signature. When she authographed her newest double CD for me she used the a. (The CD was a gift to me from her along with her DVD on the 20th anniversary of R's death) In that DVD she told some of the same stories she told us at the R. Society meeting. But I did get some additional stories. First let me tell you about meeting her. As I said Ruth gave a talk at the Society meeting. She told of how she replaced R. for a concert and that R. had found out that he was replaced by a nine year old and then invited her to see him. A photographer caught the moment when R. opened the door. It made the cover of a magazine. I have looked for this photo so if you find it please post it. Later that evening I went to the dinner for V. Ashkenazy at a Russian restaurant in the theater district in New York City. It was buffet style. I had a drink and saw R's grandsons at the bar. I went to get my dinner and plate in hand began looking for a place to sit and there by the corner by herself with an empty chair next to her was Ruth so I sat down and we started talking. I told her I played and maybe she could give me some pointers. She said that she teaches and gave me her address and telephone number. She asked me about my other interests and I told her about my interest in racing sailboats. I told her I wished I could have met R. She told me that she had about 9 lessons from him. That she was afraid at first to play for him but he showed her a picture of his boat and told her about how he had someone taking care of it and later when she was relaxed she played for him. R. told Ruth that her fingers were like wet noodles and that she would have to strengthen them if she was going to play his music. She had also complained to him about having to practice so many hours but R. told her that he was practicing more hours than that because he had to be as good as Hoffman. I told Ruth that R. and I had similar interests piano, cars and boats. Ruth commented that R. would not have liked sailboats, he liked fast boats. I told her that it was the sensation of speed that would get him interested and that you can get in a sailboat. I told her about my ice boats and reaching speeds of over 50MPH. .....If this is interesting to you I will tell you about my lesson and talks with Ruth at her apartment (just down the street from where R. lived)
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/11/09 01:25 AM

Loved hearing the stories, LJC, and hope that you will share with us the lessons and talks with Ruth.

Were her lessons with Rach when she was 10 yrs old?

About the magazine cover. If you know the name of the magazine you can go into EBAY and put the title in your search section in MY EBAY and they will notify you any time that one of the magazines is offered.

I do this for some weird things that i am interested in.

Another idea is the library. There is interlibrary sharing these days. Hey, a photocopy might be welcome if it is that hard to find one to purchase. What about libraries at Juliard etc?
Posted by: timbo77

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/11/09 08:33 AM

Originally Posted By: LJC
Timbo77--The reason I like this book so much is that there is no doubt that much of it qoutes R. directly. Reading R.'s words has given me a sense for the man that cannot be gained any other way. So maybe there are errors in it. Who knows they could have come from R. himself. Unless he kept a diary of his life even R. would not be able to get everything exactly right.


At the risk of making myself unpopular, I disagree. Rachmaninoff had been very upset at the first proofs of the book and asked that the title be changed and for various supposed comments that Rachmaninoff had made about his own music (which he had never made) be removed. Rieseman claimed that the publisher refused to do either, so that Rachmaninoff himself paid to have the large sections of the self-congratulatory remarks (that he had never made) removed as well as make certain other changes. This was done because Rachmaninoff had a certain amount of sympathy for Riesemann who faced financial ruin and had recently suffered a heart attack. It certainly does not follow that Rachmaninoff was happy with the resulting text, or that it can be concluded that the published text was accurate. This is abundantly clear from the way in which is responded to references to the book after publication.

Unlike many other biographies, Riesemann's book was not researched in any methodical way. It seems he cobbled together the product of a few afternoon conversations with the composer without too much attention to verifying the detail or indeed consulting the composer before the proofs were ready. You only have to compare it with Victor Seroff's account (he also knew Rachmaninoff personally, but his biography is of an altogether superior and authoritative order) to see how so much of what Riesemann seems to be his own invention.

At the end of the day, particularly against the unusual background that led to the publication of the book, it is very difficult to dismiss Rachmaninoff's letter where he talks disapprovingly of the book. The resulting text was a compromise that Rachmaninoff had to reach without ruining Riesemann financially and adversely affecting his health (Riesemann had been a musician friend of Rachmaninoff, something else which should not be forgotten). As much as the romanticised account in Riesemann's book may seem compelling, it is impossible to separate out the truth from the fiction, and so its worth as genuine biography has to be compromised.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/11/09 09:18 AM

Timbo, may I politely ask - and how do you know this?

And I am confused that you mention that Rach paid for changes and yet then was unhappy with the changes.

???

Was the title changed - to his liking?

I haven't started reading or studying his biography yet so am curious for when I do start.
Posted by: LJC

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/11/09 11:06 PM

LL-Unfortunately I don't know which magazine although I think she mentioned which one at the meeting. I'm not sure if she was 10 when she took lessons from R. but that is probable and I'm almost certain she said they took place in Paris. Ruth told me that she once played one of the concerto's either the 2nd or 3rd with I believe Ormandy who had a score marked by R. himself. She asked to see the score to see R's markings but Ormandy (?) said don't bother looking because the next time R. and he did the piece together R. wanted it completely different. The best part of the lesson was choosing whether to play Ruth's Hamburg Steinway B or her Bosendorfer of about the same size. She asked me which one I wanted to play and I said I wasn't sure. Ruth then demonstrated each for me (that worked out well for me!). So then I tested each. I really think Ruth liked my jazz warm ups way better than any of the Rach I played. For those who know me they already know I picked the Steinway telling her I'm a Steinway man and commenting that I had a Hamburg myself. She said that the Hamburgs were better and you can do so much more on a D (she could anyway). She was surprised when I told her I don't have ivory keys (hers does) and she commented that she thought the plastic looked cheap. I reminded her of the ivory ban. I told her that my piano had belonged to Eugene Istomin and invited her to come see it. She accepted and said she would play me her Brahm's program that she was going to play in Japan but this did not happen. I haven't given up on it. I gave her a call a few weeks ago when I was in NY to invite her to lunch but no answer, maybe she was away again. In talking about my Hamburg D she told me that years ago she went to Claudio Arrau's piano party to celebrate the arrival of his new Hamburg D. A number of notable's were present including Horowitz. She asked me if I could guess the major topic of conversation (shortly after having explained my insurance work) and so I said I guess it wasn't music, was it insuring pianos? No, it was what pills everyone was taking.
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/11/09 11:54 PM

Lee, that's some fascinating stuff. Thanks for sharing. smile

I don't know about that bit about Hamburgs being better...I guess it's what you're used to. grin
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/12/09 12:42 AM

Originally Posted By: timbo77
If I remember correctly (I'm in the middle of moving house so don't have the book to hand), Rachmaninoff wrote to Medtner to say that he was disappointed with Oskar Riesemann's book because he appeared to have embellished or invented most of it.


Quite often, the life stories of these piano-titans have to be embellished to hold the interest of a reader because the truth is so darned boring! tired

"Then we retired to the veranda for a spot of tea. Serge had two teaspoons of sugar and I had 3. We also had melba toast with our tea, although I didn't dip mine in the tea like Serge did, although the last time we shared tea and melba toast I didn't notice Serge dipping his..... ad nauseum".

How many of these people lived life on the edge, true stories about them giving reader's goose-bumps, or the heebie jeebies at the very least?
Posted by: 88Key_PianoPlayer

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/12/09 12:50 AM

Where are the pics of one of Rachmaninoff's hands playing an interval this size...


on a a piano with keys this size...


with his hand only stretched this wide?


laugh
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/12/09 12:55 AM

smokin
Posted by: timbo77

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/12/09 10:29 AM

Originally Posted By: lilylady
Timbo, may I politely ask - and how do you know this?

And I am confused that you mention that Rach paid for changes and yet then was unhappy with the changes.

???

Was the title changed - to his liking?

I haven't started reading or studying his biography yet so am curious for when I do start.


There are a number of sources for the account I have given. The first is Riesemann's book itself, which repays re-reading and comparing to biographies. Next is the letter where Rachmaninoff records his discontent with the book (I need to find this reference once I've moved house). Finally, there is the account in Bertenssen & Leyda's 'Rachmaninoff: A Lifetime in Music'. Again, one of the authors knew Rachmaninoff and, crucially, the whole book was closely scrutinised by Sophia Satin, Rachmaninoff's cousin and sister-in-law, who spent much of her life preserving Rachmaninoff's legacy.

Riesemann was a musician who had got to know Rachmaninoff. I don't recall now whether this acquaintance stemmed from Rachmaninoff's time in Russia or when he was living in Dresden. However, the book arose out of that friendship.

Riesemann sent proofs to Rachmaninoff. Not a draft, but publishers proofs. And Rachmaninoff was horrified because, at that stage, making substantial changes would require someone to pay for them. Rachmaninoff, I'm sure, would rather have Riesemann scrap the whole thing because he felt it was mostly embellishment. He was not interested in writing an autobiography himself (he was far more concerned with composing now that his new house, Senar, had been built). As I said in my previous post, Riesemann, shortly after delivering the proofs to Rachmaninoff, suffered a heart attack. He faced losing everything.

Therefore, Rachmaninoff had a choice: refuse publication and watch his friend Riesemann face the consequences, or pay out of his own pocket to remove the most offending items so it was in some publishable format. The worst part of the draft was apparently comments attributed to Rachmaninoff about his own compositions. Rachmaninoff therefore paid to change the proofs to remove these comments but I suspect he felt less inclined to pay to remove all the other numerous inaccuracies and embellishments. The publisher insisted on the title.

It's perilous to look at these events with the benefit of hindsight. At the time, Rachmaninoff could hardly have guessed that people would be scrutinising this book to learn about his life. His concern was to help his friend, not to provide an accurate biography for posterity. Therefore, whilst it may seem odd that Rachmaninoff would pay for certain changes to a book and then complain about remaining problems, that is perfectly understandable in the context and circumstances in which this book arose.

Further corroboration for the account in my earlier post is found in Rachmaninoff's own views of the book. It is very hard indeed to disregard Rachmaninoff's own comments made in a letter that was never intended to be published: he would have no axe to grind and could be completely honest with his correspondent. Why would he need to complain at Riesemann's embellishments? The lukewarm letter of endorsement that shamelessly appears at the beginning of the book only serves to reinforce the point: Rachmaninoff would help his friend, but he was not going to stand by this book as the definitive account of his life. My view is that we should be alert to Rachmaninoff's own reaction, as it reveals the real story.

This is my view, based on what I have read and what other biographers have written -- the alternative, that these are accurate recollections as told to Riesemann, to me is implausible and wishful thinking: the evidence just doesn't support it. As alluring as the stories may seem (and I'm sure they are derived from some comments that Rachmaninoff may have made), they of limited value when reconstructing the composer's life.
Bertenssen & Leyda contains a lot of primary source material and brings the reader much closer to Rachmaninoff of than Riesemann. Similarly, Seroff's account of Rachmaninoff's life is also worth a read: it is not a rose-tinted account by any means. Martin's biography is an excellent account (though he reaches a different conclusion on Riesemann's book, with which I respectfully disagree!). Max Harrison's 'Rachmaninoff: Life, Works, Recordings' is also worth a read, though it is sometimes marred by some extraneous and pointless commentary.
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/12/09 04:48 PM

Thank you timbo for your explanation.

Now, I am unsure about the letter explanation that seems to have been put in with the book. Was this the so so enthused letter or the 'other one'!

Yes, I am hooked on Rach's music and would love to know more about his life and his composing and how one might have influenced the other.

Sounds like you are hooked as well! Or is he just part of the many composers that you have delved into?
Posted by: LJC

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/12/09 05:53 PM

H- When I wrote my last I was wondering if you would see the Horowitz part--I knew you'd like that part. As for the bit about Hamburg's being better well some are but mainly they're just a bit different in my view.

T-I'd like to see the letters you are referring to. It reminds me a bit of my research into Wyatt Earp. I even have copies of most of the original source material. It seems the authors assisting in these authobiographies have to put it together and make the product marketable and thats not easy unless the subject R or E become deeply involved. In E's case well he was a man of few words. In R's case I hope the direct quotes are genuine.
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/12/09 08:05 PM

Originally Posted By: LJC
H- When I wrote my last I was wondering if you would see the Horowitz part--I knew you'd like that part. As for the bit about Hamburg's being better well some are but mainly they're just a bit different in my view.

[...]


Thanks for sharing it! Do you have any dates, such as for the Arrau piano party? smile
Posted by: MarianneAlkonost

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/13/09 03:19 PM

Dear LJC,

I am in such a shock to read your messages!!! What she told you is just amazing! This episode with the boat is so much unique and shows what a delicate person R. was and how presicely exact he felt the feelings of other people...

Piano, cars and boats)))) That's absolutely right! He also loved skating and even kite:



Dear LJC,

You ask:
"If this is interesting to you I will tell you about my lesson and talks with Ruth at her apartment (just down the street from where R. lived)"

Please go on telling us more about Ruth! We all ask you!!!
By the way, what is the exact adress of the house SVR lived in?

I'll be back to read all the marvelous posts of you friends, Rieseman's book and hands question... I wish these topics were separate not to mix everything in one theme... well.. as you like it...
By the way, did ever anyone met the photo of Oskar Rieseman? I never did!
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/13/09 05:11 PM



Just look at the euphoric expressions of unbridled ecstacy on their faces! This looks to be like the most fun three sober individuals can possibly have with their clothes on!

I often suggest kite-therapy to my students to alleviate the heebie-jeebies. smile
Posted by: LJC

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/13/09 09:39 PM

Marianne I'll keep writing if you keep posting those great photos. I think we are all very fortunate that R. had so many cameras around him. You asked if I read Forbidden Childhood. I have not but that is about to change, I called a book dealer and he located a copy for me. I have to think back on my conversations with Ruth. She showed me some of her memorabilia that is framed and hanging on her walls. She had an original Liszt authograph. I noticed a picture of a man and I asked if it was her husband. It was her late husband and I commented that he was taller. Ruth said everyone is taller. He was a professor of political science, he was not a musician. I told her I thought it was a co-incidence that she lived on the same Street as R. and she commented that he was up the road a bit. (West End Ave) (I am not giving out Ruth's address)I have R's addresses somewhere I will look for them. I even have his summer address on Long Island where he converted the Symphonic dances for 2 pianos. Its not far from where I live but the mansion he rented burned down in the 1960's. Here's something interesting. R.'s great grandson Sergie and I had a conversation. He and his brother had missed the rehearsal at Julliard of the 3rd piano concerto that we members of the society were allowed to attend. Their mother had injured her foot that morning and it had to be attended to. They did see the performance. I thought it was really funny when everyone was filing out of the auditorium that R's family was there and almost no one knew it. I said a little bit load to my friend,"See that tall man over there, that's R.s' great Grand son as several people turned and looked in astonishment. Anyway Serg asked me how the rehearsal was and I told him it was a bit more energenic than the performance. Thats when Serg confided that he had never heard the whole concerto because he cannot help but fall asleep during it. BTW neither Serg or his brother (J.) play although J took a few lessons. Maybe you want to hear about my conversation with Vladimir Ashkenazy? Oh and Marianne I note you have a link to the R. Society. If you look at the article about the Sept 07 event in NYC at the bottom is a photo of Askenazy holding a framed photos of R. on the concert stage. That was a gift to him from the society. In the photo on the left is a man with a loosened tie no jacket and glasses. Thats me.
Posted by: apple*

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/14/09 11:18 AM

thank you for your post. i loved looking at the photos and viewing the movie.

thanks so much
Posted by: Horowitzian

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/14/09 12:29 PM

Lee, here is the link:

2007 Rach Society Conference NYC
Posted by: MarianneAlkonost

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/15/09 05:19 PM

Dear LJC!!!

I do as you like it and will post as many rare pictures of Rachmaninoff as there are in the whole world only to keep you telling us more and more! I will translate to Russian what you write about Ruth and SVR for all the lovers of Rachmaninoff's music to read! There is a Rachmaninoff community in the Russian analog of facebook, and there is a Rachmaninoff society in Saint-Petersburg, and Ashkenazy played for the society, and the head of the Saint-Petersburg society is the author of the books about Rachmaninoff - "Rachmaninoff in Saint-Petersburg" and "Rachmaninof and Bunin (Russian writer - Noble prize winner)"!

Here is one of the most rare pictures I've discovered in the Internet - Rachmaninoff and Medtner. I never knew where the picture was taken and when, but my friend the architect told me that he recognised Piazza della Signoria in Firenze, so I had only to check when Rachmaninoff visited Florence to know the date: April 1924





Thank you for the link to the picture! I wish I had the large photo of that photo with SVR playing as this picture is one of the best if not the best one, because it shows him playing and it gives the impression that is a shot from the video. I saw the comments under this photo that say: "Where we can see the video to this picture?")))
Posted by: Drunk3nFist

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/15/09 08:21 PM

Wow more Rachmaninoff enthusiasts than I thought! I feel all the more at home now! laugh
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/15/09 11:08 PM

Some more interesting Rach pics.

Serge the ice-cream man:



Having tea with Melba Toast seated to his left:



Many don't realize that Serge was the first punk-pianist:



Serge, a moment before fighting off the unwelcome advances of Oscar Wilde:



With a brutal migraine:

Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/15/09 11:12 PM

Love those pix!

BJ, check out Elgar and his dogs.

Really cool!!!
Posted by: LJC

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/18/09 07:35 PM

Marianne, Did you get my private message?
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/18/09 07:59 PM

Originally Posted By: LJC
Marianne, Did you get my private message?


I received it by mistake.
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/18/09 09:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Tenuto
Welcome, Marianne.

Thanks for your links, photos, videos.

What biography would you recommend reading on Rachmaninoff?


best wishes,
Valerie



You forgot the word "and" after "photos," (with comma)
Posted by: sotto voce

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/18/09 09:51 PM

Originally Posted By: BJones
Originally Posted By: Tenuto
Welcome, Marianne.

Thanks for your links, photos, videos.

What biography would you recommend reading on Rachmaninoff?


best wishes,
Valerie


You forgot the word "and" after "photos," (with comma)

How do you know the omission wasn't intentional? That's a pretty common rhetorical device, even if the name for it isn't a household word: asyndeton.

Steven
Posted by: BJones

Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos - 05/18/09 10:15 PM

Originally Posted By: sotto voce
Originally Posted By: BJones
Originally Posted By: Tenuto
Welcome, Marianne.

Thanks for your links, photos, videos.

What biography would you recommend reading on Rachmaninoff?


best wishes,
Valerie


You forgot the word "and" after "photos," (with comma)

How do you know the omission wasn't intentional? That's a pretty common rhetorical device, even if the name for it isn't a household word: asyndeton.

Steven


I assumed she wasn't trying to be poetic. After reading her last 12 posts, and finding over 15 instances of punctuation errors, I'm quite certain that it's just a case of bad grammar, which I didn't realize was so important on this forum until today, and is reprehensible, considering that she openly ridiculed a forum member for mistyping a word, just a case of a key not being depressed enough. You can't have a perfect world without perfect grammar and I wanted to point this out to her so sensibly, she won't be so quick to make fun of others.

Even worse is the fact that although she was quite vocal in ridiculing others, she now has fallen mute on the subject of grammatical errors.