Finding Lewis-Like Joy in the Music of Sergei Rachmaninoff – page 5


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From the Winter 2017 issue of Knowing & Doing:

Finding Lewis-Like Joy in the
Music of Sergei Rachmaninoff

by Randy Newman, Ph.D.
Senior Teaching Fellow for Apologetics
and Evangelism, C.S. Lewis Institute

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  By the age of forty, Rachmaninoff had achieved a level of fame and financial success that placed him among Russia’s bourgeoisie. But in 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution, that was the wrong status to have. His land, home, and possessions were confiscated, forcing him to escape with his family (on a sled!) to Finland. They moved several times to various countries but never returned to their homeland. Later in life, living in America, he reflected, “The whole world is open to me, and success awaits me everywhere. Only one place is closed to me, and that is my own country — Russia.”10
  What strikes me as particularly sad, whenever I listen to his First Symphony, is that he left all the notes and music for that work behind in Russia. As you can imagine, a family of four could only fit so much on a sled. The scores for his First Symphony did not make the move. Rachmaninoff never heard that piece again in his entire life! His only experience of hearing it was that one distorted performance that never should have been played for anyone, especially its composer.
  After Rachmaninoff’s death, his family reclaimed his home in Russia. It now serves as a museum of the composer’s great life and work. Among the treasures found there were the instrumental parts for his First Symphony, which were reconstructed and eventually performed — for only the second time — in 1945. Three years later, Eugene Ormandy, the conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, prepared the piece for its American premiere (after much diligent rehearsal because the piece required it!). That First Symphony now finds its way onto the docket for orchestras’ regular calendars all over the world.

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