149 years since the birth of Sergei Rachmaninoff
Photo provided by Russian National Museum of Music
On April 1 (March 20, old style), 1873, Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninov was born. It is known that the composer celebrated his birthday on April 2, keeping the tradition of reckoning following the Julian calendar or, according to one version, avoiding possible April Fools’ jokes. Sergei Vasilyevich put this date in his documents after emigrating. Later it was marked on his tombstone at Kensico Cemetery in New York. And yet Rachmaninov’s birthday is usually celebrated on April 1 in Russia.
I do not know if I have succeeded in reconciling the eternal conflict between my artistic activity and my artistic conscience. I have never been able to decide what my true calling is: composer, pianist or conductor. There are moments when I think I should only be a composer, and sometimes I think I am only a pianist. According to an old Russian proverb: “chasing three hares”. Can I say that I killed one of them..?
That is how Rachmaninoff spoke of himself.