Any remarks or questions on the life of Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff can be posted here.
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Postby Zane » Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:00 am

by Zane on Fri May 07, 2010 7:52 pm


On a scene-by-scene basis, the story is calculated to be 69% true overall, with the balance in devotion to artistic integrity. Members interested in obtaining a PDF copy of the screenplay can send a PM request with your email address. There is also a soundtrack around which the project is built.

by Zane on Tue May 11, 2010 12:50 am
ANSWERS TO SCRIPT QUESTIONS – After reading, it is most expeditious to post questions here, rather than sending PMs such as those so far, and I will answer at my ability and discretion.

To begin:

1. Did Rachmaninoff really marry his cousin?
(a) Yes.

2. Why doesn't the story include SVR's love affair with Nina Koshetz?

(a) While beginning in 1916 with romantic and sxual relations, continuing spottily over years, and eventually fizzling out in the USA, the love affair made no essential difference in the development and outcome of SVR's life and upon his family. References:

{R1} Leonard Zane's/Leila Nizam's Recorded Interview of John H. Steinway. Steinway Hall, New York City, December 16, 1980.
{R2} Leonard Zane's/Leila Nizam's Interview of Leonard Pennario. Leonard Pennario Home, West Hollywood, CA. October 11, 1978.

(b) As with the movie, A BEAUTIFUL MIND, in real life John Nash even had a child out of wedlock with a woman named Eleanor Stier. Interesting gossip, but the circumstance again did not substantially alter the drama of his life path or his marriage and relationship with Alicia, and so does not secure an artistic place.

{R3} http://www.slate.com/id/2060110

(c) Nina Koshetz' daughter, Marina, now and then suggested she could have been SVR's illegitimate child rather than Nina's daughter with Alexander von Schubert. Perhaps that could be significant for historical and dramatic purposes, but the evidence says it's untrue. Marina Koshetz-Schubert was born on August 6, 1912, and SVR and Nina Koshetz met for the first time in Moscow in 1915.

{R4} Bertensson, S. and Leyda, J. Sergei Rachmaninoff – a Lifetime in Music. New York: NYU Press, 1956. P. 199.
{R5} Brough, Charles Henderson and Koshetz, Nina. The Last Love Song (Memoirs for Marina). Unpublished, and Charles Brough's last known residence was in Joplin, Missouri. In 2010 he would be 82 years of age, should any Rachmaninoff Society members wish to try to locate him and the Koshetz Memoirs.
{R6} Martyn, Barrie. Rachmaninoff – Composer – Pianist – Conductor. Hampshire: Grover House, 1990. Pp. 262-263.
{R7} See "articles.latimes.com of Jan 09 local me-10216"

3. Anna L. was a singer, right? And also married?

(a) Yes. Chaliapin's singing is enough at the Bublichki, and Anna's dancing sensuality comes across as SVR's first romantic and likely sxual affair. The romantic breakup with her was noted as another important factor in SVR's depression following the failure of his First Symphony.

{R4} Pp. 64, 65, 68.
{R8} Seroff, Victor I. Rachmaninoff. Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1950, 1970. Pp. 59, 65-66.

4. Rachmaninoff taught the Tsar's children?
(a) Yes. {R1} John Steinway related what SVR directly told him.

5. Was SVR there when Ivanovka was destroyed?

(a) Yes. The Bolshevik attackers threw the piano off the second story and burned the house as described. Rachmaninoff and his family got out with only what they could carry, and watched by the forest as the home burned down.

{R1} John Steinway related what SVR directly told him and the Steinway family at the Steinway home.
{R9} Chernov, Victor. The Great Russian Revolution, Translated and Abridged by Philip E. Mosely. New York: Russell & Russell, 1966. Pp.111-125, 145-151, 186-187, 236-237, 250-251, 260-261, 392-393.
{R10} Reed, John. Ten Days that Shook the World. London: Penguin Group, 2007. Chapter X.
Last edited by Zane on Mon May 17, 2010 12:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by Zane on Thu May 13, 2010 7:21 pm
6. Was there advance publicity for Concerto? The picture of R. against the sun, and the name Concerto seem familiar to me. I think such an ad appeared in the paper briefly at one time. R.'s name did not appear,

(a) No advance publicity, but the shot was taken in 1978 and the script and photo made the Hollywood rounds dozens times in the past few decades.

7. Zane, thanks for the clarification of facts concerning SVR and family. Harvest of Sorrows (not noted for its accuracy) gave the impression that the Ivanovka home was burned after the Rachmaninoffs left Russia, not as they watched. There is a lot of very interesting material here.

(a) SVR did not publicly reveal the actual Ivanovka event. In fact, he even lied about it in a June 1, 1917 letter from Essentuki, in the Crimea, to his own cousin, Alexander Ziloti:

I have a favor that I beg you to act on as quickly as possible. I'll be brief. First a few sentences of explanation: I've spent almost my entire earnings on the Ivanovka estate. It now represents an investment of about 120 thousand rubles. Yet I am ready to write this off, for I see another crash in store for me. Besides, living conditions here seem so much better than there that I've decided not to return there. I have about 30 thousand left -- which is 'something,' especially if I can work and continue to earn.

But I fear another crash: everything around me affects me so that I can't work and I'm afraid of going completely sour. Everyone advises me to leave Russia temporarily. But where and how? Is it possible?

Can you possibly catch M.I. T[ereshchenko, Foreign Minister] at a free moment to consult him about this? Could I count on receiving a passport for all our family to go at least to Norway, Denmark, Sweden? It makes no difference where! Anywhere!

Could I obtain such a permit by July? Can money be taken? How much?

Please talk with him! Perhaps he can suggest something else! He who is at the summit has the widest view! Please talk with him, and answer me, quickly.

Your S.R.
{R4}: P. 205.

(b) Sergei Rachmaninoff's panic and seeming remarkable premonition about "another crash" are because the Ivanovka catastrophe had already happened and he and his family had been there at the time. History has always been misrepresented by this prevaricating document, until SVR's telling his true story to intimates like the Steinway family. But even then, the account remained covert until revealed by John H. Steinway in 1980 and printed and copyrighted in the CONCERTO screenplay.

(c) Here is another important piece of information regarding a core thing about SVR that he intentionally misled people about:

On 15 April 2007, I met Natalie Wanamaker-Javier at the Rachmaninoff Retreat conducted by the Rachmaninoff Society at Steinway Hall in New York City. I asked her: "Was Rachmaninoff a happy man?" I knew the basic answer to this, and wanted to see if his great granddaughter knew. She did.

Natalie replied: "He was a very happy man, and he had a wicked sense of humor."

(d) While Rachmaninoff had strong moods, he was a complex man who deeply feared again losing the joys of living that he had had before his 1897 mental breakdown. John Steinway had also told me on 16 December 1980 that Nina Koshetz' dogged pursuit of SVR in America had caused Rachmaninoff considerable discomfort and pain; and according to Leonard Pennario {R2}, Mme. Koshetz-Schubert openly flaunted that she was "Rachmaninoff's mistress." So SVR even went out of his way to mislead others about his secret inner joys and often masked himself.

Thus, as regards various books and documentaries -- again, as Sascha Greiner said: "Who did not know Rachmaninoff intimately did not know him at all."

Last edited by Zane on Sat May 15, 2010 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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by Zane on Fri May 14, 2010 6:30 pm
8. Zane, something really must be done about the fund of knowledge you have regarding SVR. Could you write a book using this material? Does the copyright for Concerto keep you from using the material in another way after all this time? Would a TV documentary be possible? (All of this would take financial backing, of course.)
Anyone can self publish, but what an expense that would be! At this point, Concerto is the core of your information about SVR, but there is so much more. I hope you can share this knowledge with as many music lovers as possible.

(a) Thanks. I suppose a book would be possible; but from the moment I dreamed about a movie in the 1960s, and then started the CONCERTO screenplay in 1977, I always envisioned the story as a big-screen epic and not possibly anything else. There was and remains an inevitability about how this huge epic must be told, and it almost happened in the late 1980s with a major producer and studio. I want the project to stay as conceived or not at all.

(b) Reminds me of a dream I had in 1980. The dream was in a beautiful place, and in it, Rachmaninoff came to me and asked, "How did you know?" I said, "I didn't have to know. I knew how you felt, and I could guess the rest." Then he said, "You know, I don't want this done... But if it is done, I want you to do it." Then he shook my hand, turned, walked back, and I woke up crying.

(c) Rachmaninoff's question concerned things other than published facts.

(d) I hold the copyright and can do with it as I wish. There is also a great deal that is not in CONCERTO, which if included would take 5 acts and 4 hours, but CONCERTO is what it needs to be.

(e) Also take another look at the Steinway Interview thread.


9. Are you thinking of making changes in Concerto?

(a) First, no matter how many revisions, there always seem to be a few script typos, including even a missing sentence on page 73 at the end of line 8: "Slim ALEXANDER ZILOTI, 37, conducts." Apologies to those who received the screenplay, to date.

(b) One of my screenwriting mentors, Ernest Lehman, always stressed that a film begins and ends with the screenplay. While CONCERTO is the way I want it going into pre-production, there are sometimes pre-production changes and usually production changes. Just as with novel editing, such things are typical, no matter how much care we take beforehand. When filming, there are often just a few hours to write the changes, which must be cinematically effective and smoothly integrated with all action coming before and after. And then the writing still isn't done. During post-production there are usually script changes, bringing actors in, a little shooting, dubbing and so on, too. Lastly, there is the film's final-cut screenplay edition. Ernie Lehman knew so well, and here's hoping we get the chance with CONCERTO.

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Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 6:46 pm
by Zane on Wed May 19, 2010 1:17 am
On Rachmaninoff’s smoking:

10. No doubt SVR was addicted to cigarettes - his "self-medication" for the incredible stress in his life.

(a) Right, and heavy smoking presents an issue for the movie. One of the phoniest things in theatre is to force a non-smoking actor to smoke extensively and convincingly on stage or camera. It doesn't come across authentically, so smoking is omitted from the pre-production screenplay. However, if a smoker plays SVR, a revised script will have him puffing a whole lot throughout much of the movie.

(b) Here's a specifically written "smoking ossia" on Pages 93-94 (not in screenplay format, here):

Both girls sit fidgeting nearby. RACHMANINOFF KEEPS STOPPING to smoke a cigarette closer to its nub inside his cigarette holder, and to CORRECT the MUSIC and make notations on his score sheets.

The girls get more restless. The stopping and starting also annoys Natasha, and her exasperation grows when Tania comes and tugs at her arm, wanting attention. Tania's interference makes her mother turn a page too late and PLAY SOME WRONG NOTES; but instead of rebuking her daughter, NATASHA STOPS, rises and strides to Rachmaninoff -- her hands on her hips in irritation. He resumes scrawling and puffing.

NATASHA: Sergei, we've been doing this long enough, now. And remember, you promised to take the girls out for a drive.

RACHMANINOFF (not looking up): I know, I know -- but I have to make these corrections.

NATASHA: And must you always smoke? Doctors say it pollutes the body and wrinkles the skin.

Taking a final drag, Rachmaninoff sets down the holder and pulls out his cigarette case.

RACHMANINOFF: I'm cutting it in half.

He flips the case open, displaying all the remaining cigarettes cut in half.

NATASHA: And then you refill.

Rachmaninoff shrugs, closes and puts back the case.

NATASHA: We can't wait any longer, now. Tania will be due for her nap, soon.

Rachmaninoff faces her, sharply. Irina moves nearer.

(c) Perhaps a heavy-smoking movie version may be forbidden a credits claim: "No actors were harmed in the making of this motion picture."

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by Zane on Wed May 19, 2010 9:22 pm
11. Did SVR really flee down the fire escape?
(a) Yes. {R4} p. 71, {R8} p. 61.

12. How did you calculate your screenplay is 69% true?

(a) By carefully evaluating each scene individually (subjective), mathematically weighting by page length including fractionals, then mathematically compiling and overall weighting with this electronic spreadsheet:

13. Which actor were you thinking of to play SVR as you were writing?
(a) I was thinking of Rachmaninoff.

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by Zane on Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:35 am
14. Page 75 of your screenplay shows Rimsky-Korsakoff conducting the 2nd Piano Concerto in St. Petersburg. But the first performance was in Moscow, and wasn't Siloti conducting?

(a) The very first performance consisted of only the second and third movements of the Concerto, it was in Moscow, and Alexander Siloti conducted. The first complete performance was also in Moscow, with Siloti again conducting. {R6} p. 125. In the movie, the Saint Petersburg performance is not claimed to be the first, and R-K's conducting is done for dramatic impact because it is such a triumphant comeback and vindication for Rachmaninoff after devastating condemnation of the First Symphony that included R-K's disapproval.

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