Penniless exile, comfortless fame
The enigma of Rachmaninov
Everybody knows Rachmaninov, until you ask them and they realise they don’t: he’s an enigma. And the songs? You hear them and you’re instantly won over, but with one of two exceptions they’re a mystery to audiences who don’t know Russian and have no idea how they connect with an extraordinary life.
A words-and-music concert sets out to explain the connection telling a drama that starts in Imperial Russia, ends in Beverley Hills, sweeps through old and new worlds, penniless exile, comfortless fame, and asks searching questions along the way.
Who was Rachmaninov, beyond the 6ft scowl he presented to Stravinsky? Why does he matter? What did he leave the future? And can a western world that hasn’t even reached agreement on how to spell his name ever come to terms with what his music is about?