Stress Management, Classical Music, and Debussy YouTube Music

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyoldBe still, and know that I am God. ~Psalms 46:10

 

 

debussyClaude-Achille Debussy (French pronunciation: [klod aʃil dəbysi])[1] (22 August 1862 – 25 March 1918) was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions.[2] In France, he was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1903.[3] A crucial figure in the transition to the modern era in Western music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers.

His music is noted for its sensory component and for not often forming around one key or pitch. Often Debussy’s work reflected the activities or turbulence in his own life. In French literary circles, the style of this period was known as symbolism, a movement that directly inspired Debussy both as a composer and as an active cultural participant.[4]

Continued

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Stress Management, Classical Music, and Enesco

Dinner Topics for Friday

It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny. ~Thomas S. Monson

Romanian Rhapsody

 

Stress Management, Classical Music, and Enesco

Enescu24George Enescu known in France as Georges Enesco; 19 August 1881, Liveni – 4 May 1955, Paris) was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher.

Enescu was born in the village of Liveni (later renamed “George Enescu” in his honor), Dorohoi County at the time, today Botoşani County. He showed musical talent from early in his childhood. A child prodigy, Enescu created his first musical composition at the age of five.[1] Shortly thereafter, his father presented him to the professor and composer Eduard Caudella. At the age of seven, he entered the Vienna Conservatory, where he studied with Joseph Hellmesberger, Jr., Robert Fuchs, and Sigismund Bachrich. He graduated before his 13th birthday, earning the silver medal. In his Viennese concerts young Enescu played works by Brahms, Sarasate and Mendelssohn. In 1895 he went to Paris to continue his studies. He studied violin with Martin Pierre Marsick, harmony with André Gedalge, and composition with Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré.

Many of Enescu’s works were influenced by Romanian folk music, his most popular compositions being the two Romanian Rhapsodies (1901-2), the opera Œdipe (1936), and the suites for orchestra.[citation needed] He also wrote five symphonies (two of them unfinished), a symphonic poem Vox maris, and much chamber music (three sonatas for violin and piano, two for cello and piano, a piano trio, two string quartets and two piano quartets, a wind decet (French, “dixtuor”), an octet for strings, a piano quintet, and a chamber symphony for twelve solo instruments). A young Ravi Shankar recalled in the 1960s how Enescu, who had developed a deep interest in Oriental music, rehearsed with Shankar’s brother Uday Shankar and his musicians. Around the same time, Enescu took the young Yehudi Menuhin to the Colonial Exhibition in Paris, where he introduced him to the Gamelan Orchestra from Indonesia.[

More about Enescu

 

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Bible Quotes on Stress Management, How to Avoid Burnout

Judeo-Christian Worldview

Bible Stories

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Bible Quotes on Stress Management, How to Avoid Burnout

A Measured Pace. . .

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. ~Galatians 6:9

Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls. ~Alma 37:34

 

footraceIN THE THROB OF OUR MODERN PACE OF LIFE, there is much talk about stress, burnout, and chronic weariness. Few have time for meditation. In the rush for “stuff” and “fun,” there is never time left over for the things that matter most. It has been said of us that we “are in the thick of thin things.”[1] Yes, there may be endless obligations to activities, organizations, clubs, and programs. All have their place, and most offer something positive. We try to do them all, and yet we often feel like we are marking time and getting nowhere. And we are not enjoying the journey. How can some people carry on unceasingly, and seem never to grow weary?

Bible Stories. We can find a pattern in the pace taken by the children of Israel as they journeyed in the wilderness in a much simpler era.[2]

childrenofisrael-cloudSo it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents. At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.

And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed (Numbers 9:16-18,21-22)

At times their heavenly guide would call upon them to “regroup” for a lengthy time. But in this way, all things were done in order. When they did move, it was assuredly toward their goal. There were none of those decisions made in panic, which always end up being foolish decisions, and which interfere with our progress. When spirit-led priorities are addressed first, then we need not be too weary for the good works.

family5prayingdinnerBelle Spafford counseled, “The average woman today, I believe, would do well to appraise her interests, evaluate the activities in which she is engaged, and then take steps to simplify her life, putting things of first importance first, placing emphasis where the rewards will be greatest and most enduring, and ridding herself of the less rewarding activities.”

One of these basics, if done simply, can provide the family with important “regrouping” time on a daily basis. The family dinner hour can become a time of refreshment instead of burn out, and can have enduring rewards as well.

At the Round Table

Dinner Topics

Journey Faithfully

faithjourney2Burn-out can be avoided. *Order, Sabbath observance

  1.  And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again , it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. ~Mosiah 4:27 How can we have wisdom and order in our daily lives?
  2.  When the children of Israel did not journey, they tarried, or rested. How can this be applied to avoid burn-out?
  3. holyspiritHow can the Holy Spirit help us know when to journey, and when to tarry?
  4. How can you make tarrying (e.g. regrouping, reorganization, planning) a productive time?
  5. How does honoring the Sabbath bring peace, order, and refreshment to our lives?

For behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all. . .that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people. (Alma 7:7)

  1. What does the above verse tell us about priorities? Evaluate your priorities periodically in your family council meetings.

One Step at a Time—START HERE

[1] Shakespeare

[2] Wilcox, House of Glory, pp.22-23

Copyright 2010 © by Christine A. Davidson

Judeo-Christian Culture: Spotify Free, Stress Relief, Peaceful Music, Bible Quotes

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Spotify Free

Stress Relief, Peaceful Music, Bible Quotes

Isaiah Quotes. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness shall be quietness and assurance forever. ~Isaiah 32:17

   Peace in Christ. All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children. ~Isaiah 54:13

Behind the Scenes—

Jordan Music

Bible quote-still watersFind Solace and inspiration in Christian music. Art and music glorify God. There is little music to be found today that truly honors God. Check out the music of this Christian composer, Jordan, . With fans worldwide, Jordan is working on a double album depicting the Creation, and God’s Divine Plan. More about Jordan Music   and sign up for news and updates

Unique place

Notes from the Composer

I started that composition many years ago, around 20 years in fact. I was trying to come up with a new melody with some new sounds. I got as far as a few phrases in the melody in the beginning trying to decide what needed to happen.

There were times I just wanted to break the ice and try a number of melodies and see where they led. I tend to make a number of melodies and see if they fit in a certain criteria. They are never thrown away, just waiting for the right time to be developed.

When I pulled it off the shelf and added the String section with the Choral, Cello and harp it helps transport you out of your everyday world taking you to a “Unique Place”.

Want more?
Visit: www.jordanmcclungmusic.com

Play on Spotify

Listen to more of Jordan’s uplifting music at Spotify for free!

 

Secret to Peace for your family

The key to peace for your children

Stress Management, Classical Music, and Edvard Grieg

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyold

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men. ~Ether 12:4

Piano Concerto in A minor

From Wikipedia

220px-Eilif_Peterssen-Edvard_Grieg_1891Edvard Hagerup Grieg  (15 June 1843 – 4 September 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is widely considered one of the leading Romantic era composers, and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His Norwegian folk music compositions put the Music of Norway in the international spectrum.

Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway on the 15 June 1843. His parents were Alexander Grieg (1806–1875), a merchant and vice consul in Bergen, and Gesine Judithe Hagerup (1814–1875), a music teacher and daughter of Edvard Hagerup.[1][2] The family name, originally spelled Greig, has Scottish origins. After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Grieg’s great-grandfather traveled widely, settling in Norway about 1770, and establishing business interests in Bergen.

Edvard Grieg was raised in a musical area. His mother was his first piano teacher and taught him to play at the age of six. Grieg studied in several schools, including Tanks Upper School, and Tanks School.[3]

In the summer of 1858, Grieg met the eminent Norwegian violinist Ole Bull,[4] who was a family friend; Bull’s brother was married to Grieg’s aunt.[5] Bull recognized the 15-year-old boy’s talent and persuaded his parents to send him to the Leipzig Conservatory,[4] then directed by Ignaz Moscheles.[citation needed]

Grieg enrolled in the conservatory, concentrating on the piano, and enjoyed the many concerts and recitals given in Leipzig. He disliked the discipline of the conservatory course of study. An exception was the organ, which was mandatory for piano students. In the spring of 1860, he survived a life-threatening lung disease, pleurisy and tuberculosis. Throughout his life, Grieg’s health was impaired by a destroyed left lung and considerable deformity of his thoracic spine. He suffered from numerous respiratory infections, and ultimately developed combined lung and heart failure. Grieg was admitted many times to spas and sanatoria both in Norway and abroad. Several of his doctors became his personal friends.[6]

On 11 June 1867, Grieg married his first cousin, Nina Hagerup. The next year, their only child, Alexandra, was born. She died in 1869 from meningitis. In the summer of 1868, Grieg wrote his Piano Concerto in A minor while on holiday in Denmark. Edmund Neupert gave the concerto its premiere performance on 3 April 1869 in the Casino Theater in Copenhagen. Grieg himself was unable to be there due to conducting commitments in Christiania (as Oslo was then named). [7]

In 1868, Franz Liszt, who had not yet met Grieg, wrote a testimonial for him to the Norwegian Ministry of Education, which led to Grieg’s obtaining a travel grant. The two men met in Rome in 1870. On Grieg’s first visit, they went over Grieg’s Violin Sonata No. 1, which pleased Liszt greatly. On his second visit, in April, Grieg brought with him the manuscript of his Piano Concerto, which Liszt proceeded to sightread (including the orchestral arrangement). Liszt’s rendition greatly impressed his audience, although Grieg gently pointed out to him that he played the first movement too quickly. Liszt also gave Grieg some advice on orchestration, (for example, to give the melody of the second theme in the first movement to a solo trumpet).

In 1874–76, Grieg composed incidental music for the premiere of Henrik Ibsen‘s play Peer Gynt, at the request of the author.

Grieg had close ties with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Harmonien), and later became Music Director of the orchestra from 1880–1882. In 1888, Grieg met Tchaikovsky in Leipzig. Grieg was struck by the sadness in Tchaikovsky.[8] Tchaikovsky thought very highly of Grieg’s music, praising its beauty, originality and warmth.[9]

Read more and listen to more Grieg selections here

 

YouTube Music: Classic Robert Schumann

Dinner Topics for Friday

key The secret to having it all is knowing that you already do.

Robert Schumann Symphony No 1 B flat major “Spring” (Frühlingssinfonie)

This is one of my favorite symphonies. It’s fun to watch how the various instruments are orchestrated in this video. ~C.D.

From Wikipedia

Robert_Schumann_1839Robert Schumann[1] (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law to return to music, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann’s published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as Kinderszenen, Album für die Jugend, Blumenstück, Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, against her father’s wishes, Schumann married the pianist Clara Wieck, daughter of his former teacher, the day before she legally came of age at 21. Had they waited one day, they would have no longer needed her father’s consent, absence of which had led to a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father’s fortune.

1830–34

During Eastertide 1830 he heard the Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer Niccolò Paganini play in Frankfurt. In July he wrote to his mother, “My whole life has been a struggle between Poetry and Prose, or call it Music and Law.” By Christmas he was back in Leipzig, at age 20 taking piano lessons from his old master Friederich Wieck, who assured him that he would be a successful concert pianist after a few years’ study with him.

During his studies with Wieck, Schumann permanently injured his right hand. One suggested cause of this injury is that he damaged his finger by the use of a mechanical device designed to strengthen the weakest fingers, a device which held back one finger while he exercised the others. Another suggestion is that the injury was a side-effect of syphilis medication. A more dramatic suggestion is that in an attempt to increase the independence of his fourth finger, he may have undergone a surgical procedure to separate the tendons of the fourth finger from those of the third. The cause of the injury is not known, but Schumann abandoned ideas of a concert career and devoted himself instead to composition. To this end he began a study of music theory under Heinrich Dorn, a German composer six years his senior and, at that time, conductor of the Leipzig Opera. About this time Schumann considered composing an opera on the subject of Hamlet.

1840–49

Robert Schumann music room

Robert Schumann music room

In the years 1832–1839, Schumann had written almost exclusively for the piano, but in 1840 alone he wrote 168 songs. Indeed 1840 (referred to as the Liederjahr or year of song) is highly significant in Schumann’s musical legacy despite his earlier deriding of works for piano and voice as inferior.

Prior to the legal case and subsequent marriage, the lovers exchanged love letters and rendezvoused in secret. Robert would often wait in a cafe for hours in a nearby city just to see Clara for a few minutes after one of her concerts. The strain of this long courtship (they finally married in 1840), and of its consummation, led to this great outpouring of Lieder (vocal songs with piano accompaniment). This is evident in “Widmung”, for example, where he uses the melody from Schubert’s “Ave Maria” in the postlude—in homage to Clara. Schumann’s biographers have attributed the sweetness, the doubt and the despair of these songs to the varying emotions aroused by his love for Clara and the uncertainties of their future together.

Robert and Clara had eight children, Emil (who died in infancy in 1847); Marie (1841–1929); Elise (1843–1928); Julie (1845–1872); Ludwig (1848–1899); Ferdinand (1849–1891); Eugenie (1851–1938); and Felix (1854–1879).

More about Robert Schumann  at Wikipedia

 

YouTube Music; Albeñiz and Classic Guitar

Dinner Topics for Friday

YouTube Music; Albeñiz and Classic Guitar

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” –Leo Tolstoy

 

Leyenda by Albeñiz, played by Andres Segovia

Albeñiz: Granada from Suite Espanola

 

YouTube Music: Classic Brahms

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyAbility may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

Hungarian Dance number 5

Brahms Waltz

Johannes Brahms

From Wikipedia

BrahmsBrahms, Johannes 7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist.

Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms’s popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the “Three Bs“.

Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works; he worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.[1]

Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined art for which Johann Sebastian Bach is famous, and of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and other composers. Brahms aimed to honour the “purity” of these venerable “German” structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms’s works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.

More about Brahms

 

YouTube Music: Classic Prokofiev

Dinner Topics for Friday

 

peterwolf2Do you have a wolf at your door? Join Peter to defeat the wolf, and get stress relief from Classical Music.

 

From Wikipedia

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (pron.: /prəˈkɒfiɛv/; Russian: Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев; 23 April 1891 – 5 March 1953) was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. His best-known works are the five piano concertos, nine completed piano sonatas and seven symphonies. Besides many other works, Prokofiev also composed family favourites, such as the March from The Love for Three Oranges, the suite Lieutenant Kijé, the ballet Romeo and Juliet – from which “Dance of the Knights” is taken – and Peter and the Wolf.

A graduate of the St Petersburg Conservatory, Prokofiev initially made his name as an iconoclastic composer-pianist, achieving notoriety with a series of ferociously dissonant and virtuosic works for his instrument and his first two piano concertos. Prokofiev’s first major success breaking out of the composer-pianist mould was with his purely orchestral Scythian Suite, compiled from music originally composed for a ballet commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes; Diaghilev commissioned three further ballets from Prokofiev – Chout, Le pas d’acier and The Prodigal Son – which at the time of their original production were all highly successful. Prokofiev’s greatest interest, however, was opera, and he composed several works in that genre, including The Gambler and The Fiery Angel. Prokofiev’s one relative success in that genre during his lifetime was The Love for Three Oranges, composed for Chicago and subsequently performed over the following decade in Europe and Russia.

After the Revolution, Prokofiev left Russia with the official blessing of the Soviet minister Anatoly Lunacharsky, and he lived in the United States, then Germany, then Paris, during which time he married a Spanish singer, Carolina Codina, with whom he had two sons. Because of the increasing economic deprivation of Europe, Prokofiev returned to Russia in 1936. He enjoyed some success there – notably with Lieutenant Kijé, Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps above all with Alexander Nevsky. The Nazi invasion of the USSR spurred him to compose his most ambitious work, an operatic version of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. In 1948 Prokofiev was criticized for “anti-democratic formalism“, and with his income severely curtailed was forced to compose Stalinist works such as On Guard for Peace. However, he also enjoyed personal and artistic support from a new generation of Russian performers, notably Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich and for the latter he composed his Symphony-Concerto.

Childhood compositions

Prokofiev was born in 1891[1] in Sontsovka (now Krasne in the Donetsk Oblast province of eastern Ukraine), an isolated rural estate in the Yekaterinoslav Governorate of the Russian Empire. His father, originally from Moscow, was an agricultural engineer, while his mother was described by Reinhold Glière as: “a tall woman with magnificent, intelligent eyes … who knew how to create around herself a warm, natural atmosphere.” Having lost two daughters she devoted her life to music and spent two months a year in Moscow or St. Petersburg taking piano lessons.[2] Sergei Prokofiev was inspired by hearing his mother practising the piano in the evenings – mostly works by Chopin and Beethoven – and composed his first piano composition at the age of five, an ‘Indian Gallop’, which was written down by his mother: this was in the Lydian mode (a major scale with a raised 4th scale degree) as the young Prokofiev felt ‘reluctance to tackle the black notes’.[3] By seven, he had also learned to play chess.[4] Much like music, chess would remain a passion, and he became acquainted with world chess champions José Raúl Capablanca, whom he beat in a simultaneous exhibition match in 1914, and Mikhail Botvinnik.[5] At the age of nine he was composing his first opera, The Giant,[6] as well as an overture and various other pieces.

Read More

 

YouTube Music: Classic Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3

YouTube Music: Classic Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 3

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. ~Isaiah 55:11

Note below what Rachmaninoff lost when he fled the Russian revolution—all of his worldly possessions, including any music he may have written. See how God blessed him and us with his incredible talent and memory. Our blessing—Russia’s loss. ~C. A. Davidson

Hear  Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto no. 3— one of my favorites!

Rachmaninoff,_CaliforniaSergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff[1] 1 April 1873 – 28 March 1943) was a Russian[2] composer, pianist, and conductor. Rachmaninoff is widely considered one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music.[3] Early influences of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and other Russian composers gave way to a thoroughly personal idiom that included a pronounced lyricism, expressive breadth, structural ingenuity, and a tonal palette of rich, distinctive orchestral colors.[4] The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff’s compositional output. He made a point of using his own skills as a performer to explore fully the expressive possibilities of the instrument. Even in his earliest works he revealed a sure grasp of idiomatic piano writing and a striking gift for melody.

In Moscow, he met the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who became an important mentor and commissioned the teenage Rachmaninoff to arrange a piano transcription of the suite from his ballet The Sleeping Beauty. This commission was first offered to Siloti, who declined, but instead suggested Rachmaninoff would be more than capable. This alternative was accepted; Siloti supervised the arrangement.[8] Rachmaninoff confided in Zverev his desire to compose more, requesting a private room where he could compose in silence. Zverev saw him only as a pianist and severed his links with the boy, refusing even to speak to him for three years. Rachmaninoff moved out and continued to compose.

The sudden death of Tchaikovsky in 1893 made a strong impression on Rachmaninoff; he immediately began writing a second Trio élégiaque to his memory, clearly revealing the depth and sincerity of his grief in the music’s overwhelming aura of gloom.

In 1900, Rachmaninoff began a course of autosuggestive therapy with psychologist Nikolai Dahl, himself an amateur musician. Rachmaninoff quickly recovered confidence and overcame his writer’s block. A result of these sessions was the composition of Piano Concerto No. 2 (Op. 18, 1900-01), dedicated to Dr. Dahl. The piece was very well received at its premiere, at which Rachmaninoff was soloist.

Rachmaninoff made his first tour of the United States as a pianist in 1909, an event for which he composed the Piano Concerto No. 3 (Op. 30, 1909) as a calling card. This successful tour made him a popular figure in America.

Rachmaninoff’s spirits were further bolstered when, after years of engagement, he was finally allowed to marry his cousin Natalia.

Russian Revolution

The 1917 Russian Revolution meant the end of Russia as the composer had known it. With this change followed the loss of his estate, his way of life, his livelihood and essentially his world. On 22 December 1917, he left St. Petersburg for Helsinki with his wife and two daughters on an open sled, having only a few notebooks with sketches of his own compositions and two orchestral scores, his unfinished opera Monna Vanna and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov‘s opera The Golden Cockerel. He spent a year giving concerts in Scandinavia while also laboring to widen his concert repertoire. Near the end of 1918, he received three offers of lucrative American contracts. Although he declined all three, he decided the United States might offer a solution to his financial concerns. He departed Kristiania (Oslo) for New York on 1 November 1918. Once there, Rachmaninoff quickly chose an agent, Charles Ellis, and accepted the gift of a piano from Steinway before playing 40 concerts in a four-month period. At the end of the 1919-20 season, he also signed a contract with the Victor Talking Machine Company. In 1921, the Rachmaninoffs bought a house in the United States, where they consciously recreated the atmosphere of Ivanovka, entertaining Russian guests, employing Russian servants, and observing Russian customs.[22]

As a pianist, Rachmaninoff ranked among the finest pianists of his time, along with Leopold Godowsky, Ignaz Friedman, Moriz Rosenthal and Josef Hofmann, and perhaps one of the greatest pianists in the history of classical music. He was famed for possessing a flawless, clean and inhuman virtuoso piano technique. His playing was marked by precision, rhythmic drive, an exceptionally accurate staccato and the ability to maintain complete clarity when playing works with complex textures. Rachmaninoff applied these qualities to excellent effect in music by Chopin, especially the B flat minor Piano Sonata. Rachmaninoff’s repertoire, excepting his own works, consisted mainly of standard 19th Century virtuoso works plus music by Bach, Beethoven, Borodin, Debussy, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Tchaikovsky.[42]

Rhythmically, Rachmaninoff was one of the best Romantic performers. He never lost the basic metric pulse, yet he constantly varied it. Harold C. Schonberg suggests the young Vladimir Horowitz might have gotten this kind of rhythmic snap from Rachmaninoff. In addition, Rachmaninoff’s playing had extreme musical elegance, with attention paid to the shape of the melodic line. His playing possessed a masculine, aristocratic kind of poetry. While never becoming sentimental, he managed to wring dry the emotional essence of the music. He did so through subtly nuanced phrasing within his strong, clear, unmannered projection of melodic lines.[43]

He had extremely large hands. From those barely moving fingers came an unforced, bronzelike sonority and an accuracy bordering on infallibility. Correct notes seemed to be built into his constitution. . .

Memory

Rachmaninoff also possessed an uncanny memory-one that would help put him in good stead when he had to learn the standard piano repertoire as a 45-year-old exile. He could hear a piece of music, even a symphony, then play it back the next day, the next year, or a decade after that. Siloti would give him a long and demanding piece to learn, such as Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel. Two days later Rachmaninoff would play it “with complete artistic finish.” Alexander Goldenweiser said, “Whatever composition was ever mentioned-piano, orchestral, operatic, or other-by a Classical or contemporary composer, if Rachmaninoff had at any time heard it, and most of all if he liked it, he played it as though it were a work he had studied thoroughly.”[52]

Complete article