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Rachmaninoff and His World

A biography of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, published in collaboration with the Bard Music Festival.
One of the most popular classical composers of all time, Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943) has often been dismissed by critics as a conservative, nostalgic holdover of the nineteenth century and a composer fundamentally hostile to musical modernism. The original essays collected here show how he was more responsive to aspects of contemporary musical life than is often thought, and how his deeply felt sense of Russianness coexisted with an appreciation of American and European culture. In particular, the essays document his involvement with intellectual and artistic circles in prerevolutionary Moscow and how the form of modernity they promoted shaped his early output. This volume represents one of the first serious explorations of Rachmaninoff’s successful career as a composer, pianist, and conductor, first in late Imperial Russia, and then after emigration in both the United States and interwar Europe. Shedding light on some unfamiliar works, especially his three operas and his many songs, the book also includes a substantial number of new documents illustrating Rachmaninoff’s celebrity status in America.

384 pages | 18 halftones, 25 line drawings | 6.125 x 9 1/4 | © 2022

Bard Music Festival

Music: General Music

Table of Contents

            Philip Ross Bullock
Permissions and Credits
Note on Transliteration and Dating
Reading the Popular Pessimist: Thought, Feeling, and Dance in Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Narrative
            Peter Franklin
Sergei Rachmaninoff and Moscow Musical Life
            Rebecca Mitchell
Love Triumphant: Rachmaninoff’s Eros, the Silver Age, and the Middlebrow
            Marina Frolova-Walker
Rachmaninoff and the “Vocalise”: Word and Music in the Russian Silver Age
            Philip Ross Bullock
Tchaikovsky’s Echoes, Chaliapin’s Sobs: Aleko, Rachmaninoff, and the Contemporary
            Emily Frey
Rachmaninoff’s Miserly Knight (On Money, Honor, and the Means to Create)
            Caryl Emerson
Burning for You: Rachmaninoff’s Francesca da Rimini
            Simon Morrison
Rachmaninoff and the Celebrity Interview: A Selection of Documents from the American Press
            Selected and Edited by Philip Ross Bullock
The Eighteenth Variation
            Steve Swayne
“One of the Outstanding Musical Events of All Time”: The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 1939 Rachmaninoff Cycle
            Christopher H. Gibbs
“The Case of Rachmaninoff”: The Music of a White Emigré in the USSR
            Marina Raku, translated by Jonathan Walker
Aesthetic Ambition and Popular Taste: The Divergent Paths of Paderewski, Busoni, and Rachmaninoff
            Leon Botstein
Notes on the Contributors

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