By Azar Gordon
It was a wonderful afternoon of classical music, interesting discussions, and, of course, delicious hot and cold appetizers, snacks, and wine for 10 fellow members in my home on April 23. We ended the afternoon with coffee, tea, and delicious cakes and cookies.
Since it is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Rachmaninoff, a great composer, conductor, plus virtuoso pianist of the 20th century, I selected it as the theme of my presentation and gave a small talk about him.
Major concerts and happenings worldwide are celebrating his birthday. Of particular interest has been the “Rachmaninoff Marathon,” a concert of all five of his piano concertos played at Carnegie Hall one Saturday afternoon this past January by the brilliant young virtuoso pianist Yuja Wang. This was an undertaking—more than four hours long—of some of the most difficult and challenging music ever written for the keyboard. You can take a look at this genius on YouTube.
I selected snippets of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto and 3rd piano concerto, with Yuja Wang as the pianist. The YouTube snippets we shared were ably arranged by my son Gregg.
Classical music isn’t boring!
My purpose was to introduce small sections of these beautiful and expressive concertos to whet the appetite and show that classical music isn’t boring!
Rachmaninoff was born in Russia on April 1, 1873, and died March 28, 1943, in Beverly Hills. He is considered a “Romantic” era composer even though he composed a good deal of his compositions in the 20th Century.
He left Russia during the revolution of 1917. He lived in Europe for a while, then came to New York in 1918 and eventually moved to Beverly Hills, becoming a US citizen in 1943. Two weeks after his citizenship, he died of aggressive melanoma at age 69.
Azar Gordon, accomplished pianist and piano teacher, is a longtime member of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.