2022 our 25th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
79 members (AJB, antune, 0day, Bill McKaig,RPT, BMKE, accordeur, 5stringbanjo, 14 invisible), 683 guests, and 313 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 127
Farago Offline OP
Full Member
OP Offline
Full Member
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 127
I recall an interview where it was said that Rachmaninoff rose up and interrupted someone who was inquisitive about the inspiration behind this prelude.

Does anyone happen to know the source of this interview?

Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
P
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
With all due respect, I’d be more interested in knowing the source of inspiration itself.

Is it unique to people like Chopin, who, rumor has it, was ‘inspired’ for the preludes by a brief/long stay at a convent?

Or is inspiration nothing more than the manifestation of years of hard, straight-forward work resulting in something substantial; and nothing more than that?

I’m not trying to be flippant, or ‘a troll’, but I have a problem with the romanticized notion of what it is to create something from nothing, and how little, if at all, the so-called ‘muse’ has to do with it; and how even Beethoven himself was sometimes ‘inspired’ by a ‘paycheck’, and subsequently how his latter sonatas are the ‘best’, not because he was more ‘inspired’, but rather because he was a more mature musician; as a result of decades of hard work (starting with the deconstruction of Bach).

Interesting, how so little is said of what inspired the WTC and the Goldbergs (considered the Old and New Testament(s) respectively), and how Bach, himself, often stated that anyone willing to put in the hours could achieve what he did.

Of course, he was being mildly modest, for no one can achieve at the level of Bach, but the overall message was that there was very little magic (inspiration) and a whole lotta work behind Bach; ironically enough, this is more inspiring to me than whatever Rachmaninov may or may not have said about his inspiration for this or that work.

For god’s sake, even the framing of the whole thing, “Rachmaninoff rose up and interrupted” (as if Jesus rose from the dead to set the record straight on the meaning of life) is so melodramatic.

Don’t you see, it’s all theater; and by the way, is it Rachmaninov or Rachmaninoff? (My spell-checker seems to offer one spelling, yet then the other).


P.S.

Hang in there, for I am sure you’ll get a more ‘conventional’ response to your query fairly soon.


Yours truly,

Pete XIV, aka The Mole

Joined: Dec 2021
Posts: 643
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Dec 2021
Posts: 643
Reading about inspiration makes me angry too.
Especially Rachmaninoff's inspiration. How dare he.

Seriously though, I think OP simply wants to know more about an anecdote they might have heard regarding the composer. Nothing wrong with that. I never heard about that anecdote though. As for the source of said inspiration, wikipedia says it's this painting by Böcklin, called Die Heimkehr (the homecoming):
[Linked Image]

Not sure why Rachmaninoff would rise up in anger upon being asked about this though.


Soli Chopin gloria
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
P
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
Originally Posted by Rubens
Reading about inspiration makes me angry too.
Especially Rachmaninoff's inspiration. How dare he.

Seriously though, I think OP simply wants to know more about an anecdote they might have heard regarding the composer. Nothing wrong with that. I never heard about that anecdote though. As for the source of said inspiration, wikipedia says it's this painting by Böcklin, called Die Heimkehr (the homecoming):
[Linked Image]

Not sure why Rachmaninoff would rise up in anger upon being asked about this though.

We’re not so different, you and I!

And I agree that there’s nothing wrong with being curious, but I also think it’s about time we demystify this thing called inspiration.

For god’s sake, a painting? That’s all it took for Rach’s creative juices to kick in? The whole thing is overly simplistic, and if indeed that’s what Rach said, he was simply trying to impress a critic, but in reality couldn’t care less about that there painting; if he genuinely believed this painting to be a ‘source of inspiration,’ then the man was simpler than I’d ever imagined (I want to believe it was the critic thing).

The whole ‘rising in anger’ is simply more of that melodramatic aspect associated with ‘The Romantics’. You’d be surprised how many ‘stories’ I’ve heard about Liszt ‘furiously storming off the stage’ because someone had the nerve to applaud in-between movements, “how dare he! can’t he see I’m a vessel through which God, himself, communicates with the feeble masses? I, Liszt, shall shall never be interrupted whilst in a trance.” The truth of it is that his music is anything but godly; heck, his music is nothing more than a bunch of arpeggios wildly married to angry octaves! IMHO!

Joined: Dec 2021
Posts: 643
500 Post Club Member
Offline
500 Post Club Member
Joined: Dec 2021
Posts: 643
Iconoclastic humor alert, haha!

I admit I was a bit underwhelmed by the painting as well, but then again I know nearly nothing about appreciating paintings.


Soli Chopin gloria
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 131
Full Member
Online Content
Full Member
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 131


Jane - expert on nothing with opinions on everything
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 26,024
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 26,024
Originally Posted by Pete14
[...] is it Rachmaninov or Rachmaninoff? (My spell-checker seems to offer one spelling, yet then the other).

[...]

Since the name is a transliteration from Russian, it would seem that any spelling in English is an approximation.

Britannica gives this:

Sergey Rachmaninoff, in full Sergey Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff, Rachmaninoff also spelled Rakhmaninov, or Rachmaninov,

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 11,256
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 11,256
Originally Posted by JaneF

Thanks Jane
This is a great find 😊


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 33,022
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Online Content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 33,022
The video posted gives the definitive answer and I was familiar with that version. It also shows how these stories get changed into sometimes inaccurate variations as they are passed from one person to another.

Joined: Jan 2022
Posts: 398
T
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
T
Joined: Jan 2022
Posts: 398
Originally Posted by JaneF

Thanks for posting! I was just about to do it myself if nobody had. Moiseiwitsch’s anecdote of Rachmaninoff “interrupting” him after he’d properly guessed the inspiration behind this prelude has stuck with me since I first saw it. In part because I love his description & imitation of Rachmaninoff: “…whereupon the long arm shot out, ‘Stop!’”

Moisewitsch’s performance of this piece has always been my favorite, and it’s clear he understood the piece on a deeper level than the pedestrian insight most pianists have when learning a piece. Did he arrive at that on his own or was he was able to guess based on the history of Rachmaninoff’s life. Either way, this particular piece is full of emotion. A brilliant and beautifully bright melancholy. I’d even say less of a return, but the desire for return felt by an exile who will never again know home.

BTW, this particular clip is from the wonderful movie, The Art of the Piano: Great Pianists of the 20th Century. It’s a great film which features mini-segments about each of the great pianists who got their start at the beginning(s) of the 20th Century. It’s a great watch for anyone. Doesn’t really do a deep dive, but contains some nice performance clips, biographical information, and moments like this where a fellow great pianist or pianist inspired by that generation of pianists shares some unique & informative anecdotes.

Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
P
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
Originally Posted by Taushi
Moisewitsch’s performance of this piece has always been my favorite, and it’s clear he understood the piece on a deeper level than the pedestrian insight most pianists have when learning a piece. Did he arrive at that on his own or was he was able to guess based on the history of Rachmaninoff’s life. Either way, this particular piece is full of emotion. A brilliant and beautifully bright melancholy. I’d even say less of a return, but the desire for return felt by an exile who will never again know home.

“He understood the piece at a deeper level;” what, exactly, is there to understand at a deeper level here?

And what exactly is a ‘pedestrian insight’? Is it simply understanding the underlying chord progressions and the simple melody; is that what you call ‘pedestrian’?

This is what I call ‘conservatory talk’; and trust me, I’m very familiar with this kind of rhetoric:

overemphasize the simple by association to myths, “he was inspired by a desire to return,” and by over-complicating the simple.

Is this piece bad? No! But it also isn’t complex, and, therefore, this notion that only the ‘greatest’ shall truly understand its depths is more romantic fluff.

Plenty of ‘romantic’ pieces written in minor keys and played at slow tempos will evoke a certain sense of longing, sadness, and yes, a certain sense of nostalgia for things bygone; like, for example, one’s youth, place of birth (if exiled), a loved one, etc..

Can anyone tell me what inspired this ‘simple’ jazz piece played by a ‘simple jazzer’?


Joined: May 2001
Posts: 33,022
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Online Content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 33,022
I don't think a performer has to have the same picture or story in mind that the composer may have had in order to give a great performance of a piece.

Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
P
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I don't think a performer has to have the same picture or story in mind that the composer may have had in order to give a great performance of a piece.

I don’t think a performer needs to have any picture or story in mind, but rather a clear understanding of what’s going on harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, stylistically, etc…

But what do I know? for I am but an annoying mole amongst categorical genius(es)!

Joined: May 2015
Posts: 11,256
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 11,256
Originally Posted by Pete14
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I don't think a performer has to have the same picture or story in mind that the composer may have had in order to give a great performance of a piece.

I don’t think a performer needs to have any picture or story in mind, but rather a clear understanding of what’s going on harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, stylistically, etc…

But what do I know? for I am but an annoying mole amongst categorical genius(es)!

We all approach music differently, and the only important thing is the result . Personally, I always like to know the events in the composer’s life and his comments about why the piece was written.

What do I know, either. Im just a passionate amateur. .. no genius.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
P
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
So, that’s two of us, non-genius folk, emitting foolishly amateurish statements.

Perhaps it’s time for the real Slim Shady to please stand up (and shut us ignoramus’ up)! grin

Joined: Jan 2022
Posts: 398
T
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
T
Joined: Jan 2022
Posts: 398
Originally Posted by dogperson
Personally, I always like to know the events in the composer’s life and his comments about why the piece was written.

Agreed. Knowing what was going on in the composer’s life or his inspiration for a piece can certainly be informative when interpreting a piece.

Originally Posted by Pete14
For god’s sake, a painting? That’s all it took for Rach’s creative juices to kick in? The whole thing is overly simplistic, and if indeed that’s what Rach said, he was simply trying to impress a critic, but in reality couldn’t care less about that there painting; if he genuinely believed this painting to be a ‘source of inspiration,’ then the man was simpler than I’d ever imagined (I want to believe it was the critic thing).

The whole ‘rising in anger’ is simply more of that melodramatic aspect associated with ‘The Romantics’. You’d be surprised how many ‘stories’ I’ve heard about Liszt ‘furiously storming off the stage’ because someone had the nerve to applaud in-between movements, “how dare he! can’t he see I’m a vessel through which God, himself, communicates with the feeble masses? I, Liszt, shall shall never be interrupted whilst in a trance.” The truth of it is that his music is anything but godly; heck, his music is nothing more than a bunch of arpeggios wildly married to angry octaves! IMHO!

I’m sorry, but this collection of statements borders on the absurd. To suggest that a composer being inspired a painting is a lie, when people are constantly inspired to create their art by other works of art, and when many other composers have been equally inspired by paintings, poetry, or literature…is an odd stance. I also don’t understand how that would impress a critic, when, again, artists being inspired by other art is quite common.

Your statements about the reasons for Liszt’s temperament are verifiably false, and your opinion of his music seems rooted in a massive minimization of his compositional output.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I don't think a performer has to have the same picture or story in mind that the composer may have had in order to give a great performance of a piece.

True. But, with music like this, which is heavily programmatic and has a distinct theme, it helps to know what picture the composer had in mind, because it informs the interpretations of certain elements of the piece, such as the “bell” motifs which are a staple in Rachmaninoff’s music.

Originally Posted by Pete14
I don’t think a performer needs to have any picture or story in mind, but rather a clear understanding of what’s going on harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, stylistically, etc…

Many would disagree with you, especially as it pertains to program music.

Originally Posted by Pete14
“He understood the piece at a deeper level;” what, exactly, is there to understand at a deeper level here?

And what exactly is a ‘pedestrian insight’? Is it simply understanding the underlying chord progressions and the simple melody; is that what you call ‘pedestrian’?

This is what I call ‘conservatory talk’; and trust me, I’m very familiar with this kind of rhetoric:

overemphasize the simple by association to myths, “he was inspired by a desire to return,” and by over-complicating the simple.

Is this piece bad? No! But it also isn’t complex, and, therefore, this notion that only the ‘greatest’ shall truly understand its depths is more romantic fluff.

Plenty of ‘romantic’ pieces written in minor keys and played at slow tempos will evoke a certain sense of longing, sadness, and yes, a certain sense of nostalgia for things bygone; like, for example, one’s youth, place of birth (if exiled), a loved one, etc..

Can anyone tell me what inspired this ‘simple’ jazz piece played by a ‘simple jazzer’?


- The “deeper level” is exactly what Moiseiwitsch described in the video. Rachmaninoff clearly had an idea & emotion in mind when he composed the piece, and wished to transmit that via music. There was more than just music for the sake of music. The piece was, therefore, built around that specifically.

- “Pedestrian insight” is a lack of familiarity with the specific and more detailed information about a piece. There are a number of people who focus merely on “underlying chord progressions and the simple melody”. That may suffice for a piece that has no programmatic intention, but for a piece like this, rooted in an idea, story, emotion, or specific theme, the lack of awareness can impact full realization of the work.

- I would not consider that to be “conservatory talk”, especially since conservatories, these days, seem to focus more on learning notes, emulating a standardized style of playing, and robotically reciting as opposed to the “deeper level” or emotional connection which has been discussed here.

- I’m also not sure how acknowledging the programmatic intent Rachmaninoff had is “overemphasizing”/“over-complicating the simple” “by association to myths”. There’s nothing “mythical” about the fact that Rachmaninoff had a specific idea in mind and composed the music around that. That’s just a fact.

- If you think this piece “isn’t complex” then I’m not sure where this discussion will go from here, because I’d certainly consider this piece complex in a number of ways from the careful voicings necessary for the opening and closing sections, to the ties within those double notes which must be observed and the careful pedal work necessary to avoid blurring, to the dramatic central chordal section wherein the melody is hidden as octaves and chords within chords, the extremely fast double-note passage work which follows, and more. And that’s to say nothing of the phrasing necessary to pull this piece off convincingly. Is it the most difficult piece in the repertoire, certainly not. But, to suggest it’s not complex seems a massive understatement.

- I’m not sure where you got “the notion that only the ‘greatest’ shall truly understand its depths”. Neither Moiseiwitsch or anyone here has suggested that. And anyone with YouTube or even the old Art of the Piano VHS can access this information.

- Saying that any piece in a minor key or with a slow tempo will unintentionally “evoke a certain sense of longing, sadness…nostalgia for things bygone” as a means by which to dismiss the specific intent of this piece is an irrelevant conclusion. This is not about unintentional evocation/ This is about specific invocation. Rachmaninoff’s program was clear and specific. This is specifically about him being an exile from Russia. Rachmaninoff often made use of motifs that emulated the sound of bells, and in this piece, the beginning and closing section contains configurations that mimic bells (the dotted eight note-sixteenth note-eighth note triplet followed by a half note motif); similar to the plethora of cathedrals and bells in his homeland. The harmonic language used is specific to the style of Late-Romantic Russian composers.

- I don’t know who in their right mind would call Art Tatum a “simple jazzer”, when he was held in great esteem by even the greatest classical virtuosos, including Vladimir Horowitz, and pianists of any genre. I also don’t know who would call his music “simple”, when his work contained, like his technique, some of the most complicated musical & technical requirements.

-If you’re actually curious about what may have been his inspiration, I’m sure a thread asking that question, like what was done with this one for the Rachmaninoff piece, would help.

Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
P
5000 Post Club Member
Online Content
5000 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 5,127
Originally Posted by Taushi
- I don’t know who in their right mind would call Art Tatum a “simple jazzer”, when he was held in great esteem by even the greatest classical virtuosos, including Vladimir Horowitz, and pianists of any genre. I also don’t know who would call his music “simple”, when his work contained, like his technique, some of the most complicated musical & technical requirements.

It seems like my sarcasm (or was it irony?) got lost in translation!

You should’ve seen me saying Art was a “simple Jazzer” whilst using “air quotes.”

But still, what matters is that we agree on Tatum: a genius! smile


Did you know that he composed his first piece of music by the age of 5?

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 33,022
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Online Content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 33,022
Originally Posted by Pete14
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I don't think a performer has to have the same picture or story in mind that the composer may have had in order to give a great performance of a piece.

I don’t think a performer needs to have any picture or story in mind, but rather a clear understanding of what’s going on harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, stylistically, etc…
I completely agree, and I don't think all the great pianists have some picture or story in mind when they play a piece. They may feel some emotion during a piece or a passage but I think the main things that determine their interpretation are what you mentioned. I don't know what % of pianists imagine stories or pictures when they play, but it might only be 50%.


Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
Piano Buyer - Read the Articles, Explore the website
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Is a CPT necessary?
by Petoskeyguy - 08/13/22 11:07 AM
Yamaha clp 785 horrible chorus effect
by Chrisgilx - 08/13/22 10:51 AM
How are you learning?
by bennevis - 08/13/22 09:41 AM
Here am and a little help
by Mayopapayo - 08/13/22 07:14 AM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
What's Hot!!
FREE June Newsletter is Here!
--------------------
Forums RULES, Terms of Service & HELP
(updated 06/06/2022)
-------------------
Music Store Going Out of Business Sale!
---------------------
Mr. PianoWorld's Original Composition
---------------------
Sell Your Piano on our world famous Piano Forums!
---------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
Forum Statistics
Forums43
Topics214,377
Posts3,215,997
Members106,078
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers

Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2022 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5