Sergei was very fond of a particular musical theme. A motif that tends to pop up in his compositions at the most unlikely of times. This eight note melody is often used as a depiction of the Day of Wrath, and is very common in requiem masses like the one by WA Mozart. What is the name of this theme?
Sergei Rachmaninov liked fast things. Boats, cars, concertos … jokes aside, the man was always interested in the latest advances in technology. At one point he visited the factory of fellow émigré Igor Sikorsky who was struggling to make ends meet. When he saw what Sikorsky was developing there, he promptly wrote a check for 5000 dollars to help him lift-off. In return Sikorsky made Rachmaninov the first vice president of his company. Now what was this company building? Tip: it was acquired by Lockheed Martin in 2015.
Rachmaninov's choral music might be a bit less known than his works for piano, but that doesn’t make these compositions any less captivating. Take the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom for example, a one hour epic for mixed choir, to be used in the worship services of the orthodox church.
Now here in Belgium, high-schoolers also celebrate this specific saint’s holiday, for a very specific reason. What does Chrisostomos signify to them?
Sergei Rachmaninov dedicated his Three Russian Songs to the conductor Leopold Stokowski. Now there is one particular friend these two men have in common. This “friend” used Rachmaninov’s music in his 1929 short film The Opry House, while that same friend shook hands with Stokowski in a much more famous 1940 feature. Who are we looking for?
Rachmaninov performed twice at the Palais des Beaux arts in Brussels, once in 1933 and once in 1939. Especially that first time, he did so in a brand new concert hall. The Salle Henry Le Boeuf – which at the time didn’t even bear that name yet – was constructed in 1929. Now where did this unparalleled patron of the arts gather his fortune?
In 1917 Rachmaninov crossed the border between Russia and Finland, never to return to his homeland. Just two decades later, one of the most important battles of the Second World War would be fought right there. What was the name of this ice cold conflict?
The American pop singer Eric Carmen struck gold when he released his most famous hit single in December 1975. For the melody of his ballad (iconically covered in 1996 by Celine Dion), he used a couple of bars from Rachmaninovs 2nd Piano Concerto, thinking that the copyright on the composition had expired. It had in the US, but not worldwide. So the Rachmaninov estate got in touch and informed him that the music was indeed still protected. An agreement was reached in which the estate would receive 12% of the royalties from his release. One question remains … name that song!
NATURE & SCIENCE
One of Sergei’s most famous Symphonic Poems is Utyos, or The Rock. So let’s talk rocks. What is the name of the dark precious stone, nicknamed 'nature's glass,' that forms when molten lava cools at a rapid speed?
In the spring of 1892, Sergei Rachmaninov graduated from the conservatory in Moscow. At about the same time, roughly 2500 km to the west, the starting pistol sounded for one of the oldest bicycle races in the world. Still considered a monument today, this year’s race was won by none other than Remco Evenepoel, who finished solo after an attack on the famous La Redoute climb. What's the name of this race?
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