A monument to freedom.
Here is a little fact that I find extremely funny considering my recent discussions of Borstlap and his vision of a new „classical revolution“ which attempts to revive a melodious and harmonious romantic style and shuns anything abstracted and „materialistic“…
Already nearly 2 months ago my esteemed colleague Norman Lebrecht reported about the attempts of the Russian government to preserve Sergey Rachmaninoff’s villa near Lucerne, something which was noted by the Swiss much later on (which seems quite surprising, as it happens on their doorstep). And German media were last, with a report today in the FAZ.
Anway, I don’t really care much about the whole back story. The Russians think Rachmaninoff is a Russian composer foremost, and belongs to the cultural legacy of their country blah blah blah. Whereas the Americans say he is an American composer, because when he died he was the happy owner of a US passport (after spending the years of his exile mostly in the USA, and quite successfully so) blah blah blah. And the Swiss can claim he was a Swiss composer somehow, as in fact he loved Switzerland and preferred to spend his last days there blah blah blah.
As I said: I couldn’t care less.
What I really cared about was the following: Rachmaninoff, that last defender of a „healthy“, melodic and utterly innocent albeit often moody romanticism, that great seducer of pianists who somehow think that his piano concertis are the best thing next to iced cake, this undoubtedly beloved, often played and revered by the masses famous composer who consciously resisted any urge to become „modern“ or „avantgarde“, who throughout his life completely refused to use any techniques which weren’t traditional and completely tonal, who – in short – was a devout and sturdy paladin of „classicism“, perhaps the most devout and unflinching paladin of them all…what do you think was the house like that he had built for himself in Switzerland?
One would imagine – listening to Rachmaninoff’s music – gothic castles, art deco nightmares with thousands of tintillating ornamentations, lush garden grounds with sweet little fountains on which statues of little boys with arrows dwell next to half-naked nymphs in flowing robes, a big entrance hall, heavily perfumed, with scarlet tapestries on every wall, and pictures depicting opulent landscapes filled with so many details that they jump out from the canvas….at least that’s what I see when I play or listen to his music. Sometimes it is just a bit too much.
Rachmaninoff’s house looks like this:
And yes, that is Bauhaus style, pure and unadulterated, abstract, „cold“, no ornamentation whatsoever. And no, we all know that Rachmainoff didn’t turn to serialism in his later years. He just seemed to like his house like that, which of course is completely alright, one should always build a house in a way how one wants it. I love it.
And it just says so much about all these people who always want one thing to the exclusion of another. All these people who try to tell me music has to be like that because the other way is wrong. It’s always one or the other, isn’t it?
No, it isn’t. One can like both.
This for me would be the main reason to preserve Rachmaninoff’s villa.
As an endearing monument to personal freedom.