The Name of Music. The 150th birth anniversary of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff was celebrated in Paris

On April 6 and 7, the Russian Center of Science and Culture in Paris held
a series of events dedicated to the 150th birth anniversary of outstanding composer, brilliant pianist, and talented conductor Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Shortly before the opening of the exhibition “Sergei Rachmaninoff: I am a Russian composer” at the Russian National Museum of Music, the Center held a panel discussion on the life and work of the musician. General Director of the Museum, Honored Artist Mikhail Bryzgalov told the French audience about the family, studies, teachers, close friends, and musical heritage of the famous composer, as well as his life in Russia and abroad. 

The exhibition was prepared by the Russian National Museum of Music with the support of the Russian Ministry of Culture and features the materials donated to the Museum by relatives and close friends of the composer at different times. This world’s largest music museum has 3,600 items from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s personal archive.

In Paris, the museum presented rarely exhibited and little-known documents and photographs of the composer, with the focus on three main areas of Rachmaninoff’s work: composing music, performing, and conducting activities. Most of the exhibits are provided with interactive QR codes, which enable the audience to listen to the musician’s recordings from the funds of the Museum of Music.

On April 7, opening the solemn ceremony, Rinat Alyautdinov, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO, delivered a welcoming speech to the guests and organizers of the exhibition: “The contribution of Sergei Rachmaninoff to the world music is enormous. His works are about the man and his unity with nature. They are full of love for the Motherland and unselfish powerful force makes one believe in the best and happiness. Two years ago, on the initiative of Russia and with the support of several countries, including Switzerland and Azerbaijan, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s anniversary was included in the UNESCO list of anniversaries.

Presenting the events that took place in 42 Russian regions on April 1, the composer’s birthday, Mikhail Bryzgalov noted that, unlike many other musicians, Sergei Rachmaninoff was able to find his place in a foreign land, where the pianist rose to and secured world fame.

President of Rachmaninoff’s Conservatory in Paris, permanent chairman of the Russian Musical Society in France, Count Pierre Chérémeteff told the audience about another, equally well-known side of Rachmaninoff’s life — charity and selfless assistance not only to artists, but also to the USSR Defense Fund: “Concerned about the country, Sergei Rachmaninoff donated the money from several concerts given in the USA to the Red Army Fund, accompanying the transfer with the words “From one of the Russians…”

Carefully studying the exhibition stands dedicated to the pianist’s life abroad, his great-granddaughter Alexandra Conus-Brochard, who restored the surname of Rachmaninoff by a decree of French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in November 2022, noted: “I spent part of my childhood in the house at Villa Senar. I am really moved by the events dedicated to the 150th anniversary of my great-grandfather.”

The gala evening ended with a piano concert by laureates of international competitions Josquin Otal, who gained recognition at major music venues in Europe and America, Denis Grotsky, a postgraduate of the Gnesin Russian Academy of Music, and Yulia Orlova, a member of the French society of authors S.A.C.E.M. and a teacher of Rachmaninoff’s Conservatory in Paris.

The events celebrating the composer’s anniversary in Paris were supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Rossotrudnichestvo representative office in France.

Natalia Tartakovskaya.
Materials provided
by the Russian National Museum of Music