My Older Legacy Literary Blog

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sergei Rachmaninoff, a 6'5" Tall Scowl, said Stravinsky

 On a wholly obtuse subject, I basically obtained a piano degree (the full credits worth) in piano performance years ago and have always heard that for every small instructor position at a small college there are hundreds if not thousands of applicants of brilliant pianists with masters degrees and PhD’s vying for that one position. I mean people who could play concertos, you name it. And there are some pop artists today that could not even pick out Middle C on a piano if their life depended on it. 

I remember when I was 16 and had just memorized Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. I was pretty happy. I discovered much more difficult stuff in college, like Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto and Gershwin's concerto in F. 

Then I wrote my first novel, Rachmaninoff’s Ghost. It did not get published until twenty years later, after several other books had been published..Rachmaninoff was this extremely melancholic composer with a Russian short hairstyle, (they called it a ‘convict’ style back then) who composed the absolutely saddest  ‘heart on your sleeve’, lachrymose compositions. 

He wrote a symphonic poem called ”Isle of the Dead” based on the City of Dis or Hades, from a painting by a famous German expressionist artist named Arnold Bocklin. This painting literally shows a portrait of hell itself. 

He later composed a ”Vespers” or solemn choral piece based on Edgar Allan Poe’s ”The Bell’s”. 

I mean, Rachmaninoff was doing some interesting things. He was also considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. He was born in 1873, died 1943..

One of my music professors had met him (considered the greatest orchestral trumpet player in the entire world a few years later) in 1939 at a famous concert, and shook his hand. I later put that and my music school and some semi-versions of my friends and professors loosely into the plot.

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