Rachmaninoff.org • Have you heard the story about ...?
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Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:11 am
by opus23#10
Fritz Kreisler and Rachmaninoff had a recital in Carnegie Hall once. In the middle of the music, Kreisler got lost and turned around to ask Rachmaninoff, "Where are we?"
Rachmaninoff said, "Carnegie Hall, sir!"
Opus23#10

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 5:06 pm
by StewH
Now that you mention it, yes! My dad relayed this same story to me many years ago...so there may be some truth to it...who knows?

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:18 pm
by opus23#10
I think SVR was so wrapped up in his performance that he couldn't immediately understand Kreisler's problem. :? It is interesting that the two great men had very different philosophies about performing. Rachmaninoff was a perfectionist, Kreisler was much more casual. It took five tries before SVR was satisfied with Beethoven's Sonata Op.30, #3 when he and Kreisler recorded it in the 1920's. Kreisler was supposedly very weary of the process. (This marvelous recording, as well as Schubert's Sonata in A Major and Grieg's Sonata Op. 45 for violin and piano are in the RCA Red Seal "box".) If you don't have this CD, you really should get it. I actually bought a single CD several years ago, but have not found another one.)
Opus23#10

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:54 pm
by Marianne
I've heard it :D

I also've heard that they never had a performance together in the Carnegie Hall and all this is simply somebody's joke just to show SVR's strictness and passionate devotion to music as if to something sacred...

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 12:52 am
by opus23#10
Marianne, it would not surprise me if the story was fabricated, especially if there is no record of them performing together at Carnegie Hall. I could imagine such a thing being true though, because of the intense concentration Rachmaninoff had when playing.
Opus23#10

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:19 am
by Marianne
Have you heard the story about ...?

Living down success is sometimes as difficult as living down failure. Living down the C-sharp Minor Prelude has been one of the problems of Sergei Rachmaninoff�s career. It isn't that he has no regard for the Prelude. He even plays it himself. Sometimes with a sly humor, he will autograph a photograph with the opening notes of it. But there are times, he confesses, when being so labeled with this world-popular piece irks him a little. Apropos of this, they tell the story of how Rachmaninoff and Paderewski once entered together a cafe on the Rivera. Immediately upon the arrival of the two great pianists, the orchestra ceased playing. The leader rapped brightly and swung his men into the chords of the Rachmaninoff C-sharp Minor Prelude. Paderewski grinned with delight at his partner�s discomfiture, and at the close applauded the embarrassed composer across the table long and loudly, so that anyone who had not noticed his presence before, became aware of it. When the applause at last died down, the enterprising leader obliged with an encore�an encore, which automatically removed the glee from Paderewski's face and transferred it magically to Rachmaninoff's. They had struck up Paderewski's Minuet and now it was Rachmaninoff's chance to lead the applause which he proceeded to do until every head in the restaurant had pivoted about and stared at Paderewski.

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:44 am
by opus23#10
Marianne, that is a wonderful story! It does seem true. *** One problem a composer faces with extremely popular works, such as the Prelude in C# Minor and the 2nd piano concerto, is that listeners don't want to move any further in their listening adventures. They just want to be comfortable! :(
Some of this is the fault of piano teachers, and some may be the fault of classical radio stations. (That is not true of the one in my city, which offers a great variety of music.) I guess the only remedy is for teachers to offer various pieces, instead of the two most popular preludes, and for the public to support classical radio by buying CD's of their unplayed favorites, or by giving money.
Opus23#10

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 9:09 am
by Daniel
opus23#10 wrote:One problem a composer faces with extremely popular works, such as the Prelude in C# Minor and the 2nd piano concerto, is that listeners don't want to move any further in their listening adventures. They just want to be comfortable! :(

And the problem gets worse when these popular works are not the best the composer produced. Rachmaninoff happens to fall into this category, as (I assume) most of you people on this forum know.
For some unknown reason, symphonic orchestras around here seem to avoid breaking new ground. They have a relatively vast repertiore, but one which mainly consists of known works. And this brings us to another problem, apart from limited piano teachers and radio stations: limited conductors and managers. Maybe there should be some rule to forbid playing the same work twice consecutively :D That way some 80% of the people would surprisingly discover that, for instance, Rachmaninoff did not write just the 2nd concerto...

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:41 pm
by opus23#10
You are right about some orchestras. Managers worry about ticket sales, and are afraid new works will scare people away. I wouldn't classify SVR's music as a "new work", though. A pianist plans to perform the 3rd piano concerto here in April. I will definitely attend!
Opus23#10

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:17 am
by Marianne
Exactly! We talked about the popularity of SVR's works on one Russian forum and one guy with a huge knowledge of music made a conclusion that people like and feel comfortable with simple beginnings, simple things like Moonlight sonata, the first episode of 2nd concerto, Ave Maria and so on... The strange and hard question is why this simple things are made in such a way that they contain so much in them!!!

Marianne wrote:Sometimes with a sly humor, he will autograph a photograph with the opening notes of it.


An example of the musical autograph :D
Image

Can anybody say what piece is quoted?

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:14 pm
by Marianne
By the way, have you ever heard about such method of teaching the piano playing as follows:

(I've read that Glinka, Russian composer, was taught in this way)

above the keyboard there is a special desk, so that the player can't see his hands! :!:

Can you imagine playing the piano never looking on your hands?

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:14 pm
by Daniel
Hah!
That seems really useful, easy and relaxing in the following situations:
- big intervals
- big leaps
- adjacent notes in some chords that have to played with a single finger
- crossed hands (in combination with the above?... :twisted: )
:D :D :D
Anyway, you can't possibly visually follow all your fingers while playing, so the brain itself may act like the special desk you described... It's just a matter of motor skills, like driving or riding a bike, skills that end up in subcortical areas. At the piano the level you need to reach with these skills is obviously much higher, but the principle is the same. Just think about this: would you easily write down the notes of a piece you know very well without a keyboard at hand? I don't think so, just because in your mind they are not "written notes" any more - they're a chain of reflexes.

As for the autograph, do you have the photo in higher resolution? If so, email it to me and I'll try to identify where the notes come from.

PS: I'd take a guess at the second suite, since I've seen an original autograph of that and it looked similar. Excuses in advance if my guess was wrong.

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:09 pm
by morakeo
There should be a method like that because when I began my piano lessons as a child in NY, my teacher used to cover my hands with a book so I couldn't see them.

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:41 pm
by Marianne
I wish I studied to play in this way! Usually the harder to study - more interesting!
Morakeo, rare experience! Never heard it being used nowadays)
Daniel, exactly! But all the same I think there is some sense in this method, in order to give up the habit of looking on the hands, to be more free!

Daniel, that's the only size of the photo that I have! Unfortunately!
I even enlarged it!

Re: Have you heard the story about ...?

Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:08 pm
by opus23#10
It seems to me that covering the hands so that the student is completely dependent upon the sheet music, or the memory of that music, is too extreme. Likewise, looking at one's hands all the time causes very poor sight reading skills. I notice that students can develop either tendency. It seems to me that striking a middle ground is important.
Sometimes when teaching students, I have them concentrate on difficult chords, etc. by looking at the music. Then, after they have spent some time on that, I have them look at their hands.. When one is playing from memory, looking at the hands occassionally is important. It should not be a shock. Notice Rachmaninoff's pictures at the piano.
Opus23#10