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Rachmaninoff, Sergei (1873 – 1943)

‘If one has such a sound in one’s orchestration 50% of the task is accomplished’

An interesting two-page typed letter signed by Rachmaninoff, March 27th 1924, Hotel Ansonia (NY) headed paper, and addressed to fellow composer Deems Taylor (1885 – 1966).

The composer opens, ‘Owing to my limited knowledge of the English language, I could not express to you all I wanted to say last night. I wish to tell you that your Suite made a very great impression on me. What I especially admired was the fact that you understand how to be modern, and at the same time keep within the limit which is after all — not music — only color and sound.’

He goes on, ‘Furthermore, I was also very much pleased with the fact of your thorough knowledge of Russian classical music. Am I right?’ Rachmaninoff then moves on to Taylor’s orchestration which he describes as ‘extraordinarily beautiful, quite first class. If one has such a sound in one’s orchestration 50% of the task is accomplished and — if — besides that, one has something to say, the whole is perfect. I have, heretofore, thought, but naturally not expressed that opinion, that there were no important composers in this country, but now I feel sure of one who really can show something and say a great deal.’

Considerable age-toning, a few small edge tears and some staining, especially to the second page. A quite revealing letter by the Russian composer.