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Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Rachmaninoff

The city of Moscow played a special role in the life of outstanding Russian composer, conductor and pianist, Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943). In Moscow, he studied music at the conservatory, developed his musical talent, fell in love, got married, befriended a lot of well-known figures, and then decided to leave the country for good.

The young Rachmaninoff, originally from the Novgorod Governoratean administrative division (a guberniya) of the Russian Empire, first came to the capital in 1885. He was a musically gifted child who was sent to the St. Petersburg Conservatory to do his elementary classes at the age seven, but he failed to manage his newly-acquired freedom. As the little student began to skip classes, it was decided to relocate him to Moscow, where his relatives could keep an eye on the future musician. Sergei was admitted to the junior division of the Moscow ConservatoryRussian: Moskovskaya konservatoriya or Московская консерватория in 1885. He lived en pension with his teacher Professor Zverev at 5–7 Ruzheyny LaneRussian: Ruzheynyi pereulok or Ружейный переулок – unfortunately the house no longer stands, having been replaced by modern high-rises.

Московская консерваторияAt the age of 13, Rachmaninoff met Pyotr Tchaikovsky, who predicted a big future for him. In 1989, the boy moved to his aunt Varvara Satina’s place in Levshinsky LaneRussian: Levshinskiy pereulok or Левшинский переулок, which was closer to the conservatory and convenient for going to classes. Two years later, the 18-year-old young man, who was already well-known within Moscow’s musical circles as a composer and pianist, lived at 15 Sivtsev Vrazhek LaneRussian: Sitsev Vrazhek or Ситцев Вражек. This building, however, was sadly the only one that disappeared from the historic lane, which is otherwise full of protected monuments of architecture. Still, the lane with its ancient houses and centuries-old trees preserves the enchantment of the old Moscow that Rachmaninoff knew.

SONY DSCAfterwards, Rachmaninoff lived at apartments in Nikolsky LaneRussian: Nikolskiy pereulok or Никольский переулок, VozdvizhenkaRussian: Воздвиженка Street and Serebryany LaneRussian: Serebryanyi pereulok or Серебряный переулок, none of which remain today. After graduating with honours as a pianist and composer from the Moscow Conservatory, Rachmaninoff embarked on an enthusiastic career conducting the Moscow Russian Private OperaRussian: Moskovskaya russkaya chastnaya opera or Московская русская частная опера at 6 Bolshaya Dmitrovka StRussian: ulitsa Bolshaya Dmitrovka or улица Большая Дмитровка, the theatre of the famous merchant and philanthropist, Savva Mamontov. Nowadays, the Moscow Operetta TheatreRussian: Moskovskiy teatr operetty or Московский театр оперетты owns this building, which has seen hundreds of remarkable performers and was decorated by the best-known Russian painters of the early 20th century: Vrubel, Levitan, Serov, the Korovin Brothers, and the Vasnetsov Brothers.

Андроников монастырьThe Moscow Conservatory, founded at the beginning of the 19th century and relocated to Princess Dashkova’s former palace at Bld. 1, 13/6 Bolshaya NikitskayaRussian: Большая Никитская St in 1971, is foremost among the places associated with Rachmaninoff. The third academic building was named after Rachmaninoff, and is now known as Rachmaninoff hallRussian: Rakhmaninskiy zal or Рахманинский зал. It is a bright 250-seat room with high ceilings, a churchlike interior design, and extraordinary acoustics, loved by performers and listeners alike.

Sergei Rachmaninoff was a devout believer and a passionate fan of church music. He would often come to the Andronikov MonasteryRussian: Androniev monastyr or Андроньев монастырь in TagankaRussian: Таганка Street to enjoy the intricacies of Church Slavonic music and singing. The Andrei Rublev Central Museum of Ancient Russian Culture and ArtsRussian: Tsentralnyi muzey drevnerusskoy istorii i iskusstva imeni Andreya Rublyova or Центральный музей древнерусской истории и искусства имени Андрея Рублёва is now at 10 Andronyevskaya SqRussian: Andronevskaya ploschad or Андроньевская площадь, where the Andronikov Monastery of the SaviourRussian: Svyato-Andronikov monastyr or Свято-Андроников монастырь used to be. The Saviour CathedralRussian: Spasskiy sobor or Спасский собор of the monastery is the oldest church preserved in Moscow. Legend has it that the great icon painter Andrei Rublev is buried there.

Rachmaninoff continued wandering from one apartment to another. He spent the winter of 1901–1902 at 24 Leontyevsky LaneRussian: Leontievskiy pereulok or Леонтьевский переулок, near Tverskaya StreetRussian: ulitsa Tverskaya or улица Тверская , and then came back to 11 Vozdvizhenka St, and stayed there until 1905. An administrative building of Russia’s Ministry of DefenseRussian: Ministerstvo oborony RF or Министерство обороны РФ stands where AmericaRussian: Америка Lodging House, the composer’s residence, once stood. Writer Yuri Nagibin declared the demolition of America in 1984 a crime.

Страстной бульвар, 5The last composer’s place of residence in Moscow and in Russia itself was 5 Strastnoy BlvdRussian: Strastnoy bulvar or Страстной бульвар, where he lived from 1905 to 1917. He moved in there with his wife Natalya Satina and their daughter Irina three years after they were married. This is also where his second daughter, Tatyana, was born in 1907. The family occupied seven rooms on the third floor, with beautiful views from the windows. However, the autumn of 1917 put an end to their happy and comfortable life. Hunger, cold and danger loomed before the family, in a country that now declared ‘war to palaces’ – Rachmaninoff was thus forced out of the country.

This house later became the headquarters for the Communist University of the Toilers of the EastRussian: Kommunisticheskiy universitet trudyaschikhsya Vostoka or Коммунистический университет трудящихся Востока. The new regime changed the name of Strastnaya Square into December Revolution SquareRussian: Ploschad Dekabrskoy revolyutsii or Площадь Декабрьской революции, and the boulevard was partly destroyed. All of Rachmaninoff’s possessions were plundered; only his Bechstein grand piano was saved by his admirers. Later on, the building was used by the All-Union Radio CommitteeRussian: Vsesoyuznyi radiokomitet or Всесоюзный радиокомитет and the Ministry of Information and Press of the Soviet UnionRussian: Ministerstvo informatsii i pechati SSSR or Министерство информации и печати СССР. Today, it houses the Rospechat Federal AgencyRussian: federalnoe agentstvo «Rospechat» or федеральное агентство «Роспечать».

Monument to Sergei RachmaninovFortunately, repairs and finishing works have preserved the original look of the Rachmaninoff HouseRussian: Dom Rakhmaninova or Дом Рахманинова. A memorial plate is mounted on the wall of the building. The nearby monument to the musician was sponsored by his grandnephew, Yuri Rachmaninoff. Fans of Sergei Rachmaninoff gather near his four-metre bronze statue in Strastnoy Boulevard on the 2nd of April every year to celebrate his birthday.

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Gallery

Serebryany Lane today
Ruzheyny Lane today
Nikolsky Lane
Moscow Operetta Theatre
Moscow Conservatory
Main Building of the Russian Defense Ministry at 11, Vozdvizhenka Street
Andronikov Monastery
Andrey Rublev Museum of Ancient Russian Art
Vozdvizhenka Street
11, Vozdvizhenka Street. An old photo
5, Strastnoy Boulevard
Andronikov Monastery. Spassky Church
Modern buildings at 15, Sivtsev Vrazhek Street
Serebryany Lane overlooking Arbat. An old photo
Andronikov Monastery today
Strastnoy Boulevard
Strastnoy Boulevard in the past. An old photo
Sivtsev Vrazhek Street. An old photo
Serebryanny Lane
Rachmaninoff Hall
Sergei Rachmaninoff at home
Monument to Sergei Rachmaninoff
Ivanovka. Rachmaninoff Memorial Estate
L. P. Rachmaninova with her son Seryozha
Sergei Rachmaninoff with his wife

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