Rachmaninoff: Piano concerto no. 2


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I was living in the south of Amsterdam when I bought this, and I just discovered a small shop in the neighbourhood. It was called Opus 391, and it was at number 391. The owner was a nice lady, and she was selling mostly antique sheet music. She also had a formidable collection of 78 shellac records, where I bought my clock.

I bought a lot of records there, at good prices. She also had nice singles, and sometimes gave me a warning when she got new stuff coming in. We were in good contact, and I helped her at one point with moving stuff, when she had a leakage in her shop. Good memories. The moving and helping out, not the leakage.

Rachmaninoff wrote this concert while recovering from his depression. It was first performed in 1900, and clearly proved he was back. Rachmaninoff is usually seen is over the top romantic in a time that romantic music was out. The new thing was atonality, more expressionist works were en vogue. So Rachmaninoff was not always appreciated. It didn’t help his already fragile psyche: he suffered from an acute lack of self-confidence.

He was helped by one of his neighbours, the therapist Dahl, with a therapy of self suggestion. He kept on telling to himself his next concert would be great, and that he was the best composer ever, I suppose. In front of the mirror. In later years he wrote: Although it may sound incredible, the cure really helped me.

The rest is history. The concert is now one of the most played and best known piano concerto.

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