Sergei Rachmaninoff

Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff;Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninov

1873 (Semyonovo, Russia) – 1943 (Beverly Hills, Calif.)

Siloti (Rachmaninoff’s cousin) advised him to study with the disciplinarian Zverev, where he met his fellow-student Scriabin, and Tchaikovsky, a keen supporter and influential mentor (Zverev broke off relations when Rachmaninoff confessed that he wanted to compose). The première of Rachmaninoff’s first symphony suffered from Glazunov’s drunken conducting, leading to a bout of depression, not helped by Tolstoy’s adverse reaction to Rachmaninoff’s own playing. Stravinsky, a Californian neighbour, described his famous scowl. He became the aviator Sikorsky’s benefactor and vice-president, paid Nabokov’s passage from France, and gave him some unlikely clothes.