Blog: Working in Senar
For the third time this year we are at Villa Senar (near Lucern) to continue our work on the artifacts and documents. Now, at the quiet start of Autumn, the sleeping beauty of the country estate on Lake Lucerne casts a mystery spell. Time seems to have stopped.
Appearences can be deceptive, however. Especially within the Villa, where a stunning amount of original furniture, utensils and documents survives from the golden summers Rachmaninoff spent here. And yet over the years rooms have exchanged furniture, letters and photos have travelled from pile to folder, from desk to cupboard.
It is only when the original order is restored that objects and documents start to tell their own story. So too, this time when we rearranged the salon and dining room on account of a single old photo found in a desk and, with a sudden shiver, all at once the past came to life.
So too, when with the unexpected restoration of dozens of letters of Natalia Rachmaninoff to the correspondence of her youngest daughter Tatiana Conus, for very first time ever, the main personalities within the composer’s inner circle emerge in full character.
'When your father was alive', so Natalia writes in 1944,'I had always the feeling that I will never be weak and old, but since he has gone how everything has changed!' Bound to communicating in the less familiar English language in order to allow the letter to pass censorship in not yet fully liberated Europe, the words gain even greater intensity.
And so it is crushing to read the tiny postcard that was the first to be sent to France after the liberation in 1944. On it Rachmaninoff’s eldest daughter, Princess Irina Wolkonsky has managed to cram, without a single erasure the mainly sad crop of news of five years in minuscule writing and condensed words. ‘Father’, so she writes from sister to sister, ‘had a presentiment he would not see you again. He always carried your and Sasha’s picture with him. One of the last letters you wrote him arrived on the morning of his New York recital. It gave him so much joy - he considered it a good omen - and that was one of the most beautiful recitals he played.’
Elger and Wouter