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Is this true about Rachmaninov?
#2244400 03/10/14 06:00 PM
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A friend of mine who is an accomplished musician(not a pianist)just told me that Rachmaninov was Jewish and the his original name was Rachman but he changed it. Having read two biographies of Rachmaninov and considering some of his music is based on Russian Christianity I found this very implausible. I also checked some of the websites about famous Jews and did not see Rachmaninov's name.

Of course, a very large percentage of famous Russian musicians are/were Jewish, but I never heard this about Rachmaninov.

Is there any truth to my friend's statements?


Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2244403 03/10/14 06:12 PM
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No, Rachmaninoff was not Jewish.


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Polyphonist
Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
Polyphonist #2244418 03/10/14 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Polyphonist
No, Rachmaninoff was not Jewish.


Agreed. I've never read anywhere that he was Jewish.

Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2244438 03/10/14 08:04 PM
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Would this not confirm that Rachmaninoff was not Jewish :

"According to a genealogy “Historical Information About the Rachmaninoff Family,” it could be traced back to the days of Mongolian domination in the Middle Ages. As photographs taken in the last years of Rachmaninoff’s life suggest, there is something almost Mongolian-looking about his features – his almond-shaped eyes with heavy bags under them, his pendulous lips. Stefan IV, one of the rulers of Moldavia, had a daughter, Elena, who married the eldest son and heir of Ivan III, the Grand Duke of Moscow. Elena’s brother accompanied her to Moscow and it was his son, Vassily (nicknamed rachmanin) from whose line the composer’s family may be traced. The name has its origins in an Old Russian word, ‘rachmany’, meaning hospitable, generous, a spendthrift."

From : Rachmaninoff by Michael Scott


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Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
BruceD #2244473 03/10/14 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Would this not confirm that Rachmaninoff was not Jewish :

"According to a genealogy “Historical Information About the Rachmaninoff Family,” it could be traced back to the days of Mongolian domination in the Middle Ages. As photographs taken in the last years of Rachmaninoff’s life suggest, there is something almost Mongolian-looking about his features – his almond-shaped eyes with heavy bags under them, his pendulous lips. Stefan IV, one of the rulers of Moldavia, had a daughter, Elena, who married the eldest son and heir of Ivan III, the Grand Duke of Moscow. Elena’s brother accompanied her to Moscow and it was his son, Vassily (nicknamed rachmanin) from whose line the composer’s family may be traced. The name has its origins in an Old Russian word, ‘rachmany’, meaning hospitable, generous, a spendthrift."

From : Rachmaninoff by Michael Scott


I need to get my hands on that biography! Thanks for sharing.


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Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
Dwscamel #2244530 03/11/14 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Dwscamel
Originally Posted by BruceD
Would this not confirm that Rachmaninoff was not Jewish :

"According to a genealogy “Historical Information About the Rachmaninoff Family,” it could be traced back to the days of Mongolian domination in the Middle Ages. As photographs taken in the last years of Rachmaninoff’s life suggest, there is something almost Mongolian-looking about his features – his almond-shaped eyes with heavy bags under them, his pendulous lips. Stefan IV, one of the rulers of Moldavia, had a daughter, Elena, who married the eldest son and heir of Ivan III, the Grand Duke of Moscow. Elena’s brother accompanied her to Moscow and it was his son, Vassily (nicknamed rachmanin) from whose line the composer’s family may be traced. The name has its origins in an Old Russian word, ‘rachmany’, meaning hospitable, generous, a spendthrift."

From : Rachmaninoff by Michael Scott


I need to get my hands on that biography! Thanks for sharing.


Here's a link to the book :

Rachmaninoff

Regards,


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Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2244592 03/11/14 05:24 AM
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To be honest, it's not impossible that there's Jewish blood in there (whatever that actually means), but Rachmaninoff didn't consider himself Jewish.

My father's side of the family were Jewish, but I don't have a Jewish name and I wasn't brought up as a Jew, so as far as I'm concerned there's little point in me considering myself Hebrew.

It's not imposssible that there's a similar situation somewhere in the Rachmaninoff lineage, and probably many families in the world.

Interesting though.

Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2244602 03/11/14 06:28 AM
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I always had a doubt on this, but impossible to find a source mentionning a jewish origin.

I played 10 years ago the first movement of the 3d concerto in a Master Class with France Clidat (who recorded it). She asked me at the beginning : "Do you know what is the origin of the opening theme ?". I responded that it is an original theme (i.e. without external reference) since I know that Rachamaninov was asked the same question after the creation of the concerto, and that his famous response was that the main theme has been written "by itself" and was a memory from his native Russia.
But she told me "No ! this is not known, but this is an askenazy traditionnal melody". She seemed very proud to claim this. Obviously, I could not argue, I was 17-18, but more than 10 years later I have never been able to find such a reference ... and France Clidat left us with her secret ...

Last edited by Okay; 03/11/14 06:33 AM.
Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2244630 03/11/14 08:30 AM
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I appreciate the poster is likely just curious, but one cannot help but wonder what a different place this world would be if one's cultural/ethnic/religious background was of no interest to anybody......

Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
jehalliday #2244646 03/11/14 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by jehalliday
I appreciate the poster is likely just curious, but one cannot help but wonder what a different place this world would be if one's cultural/ethnic/religious background was of no interest to anybody......


What, every man an island, writing and performing music completely unaffected by his cultural and ethnic background?

Some of the Modern Classical lot try to do this. And see what a mess they've made of music by obsessing on complete originality!

I hope you allow us all pride in our origins? Can you accept that someone else's interest in those origins does not equate to racism?

Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2244687 03/11/14 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
A friend of mine who is an accomplished musician(not a pianist)just told me that Rachmaninov was Jewish and the his original name was Rachman but he changed it.

And did you ask your musician friend where he got that information? grin


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Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
Okay #2244689 03/11/14 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Okay
I always had a doubt on this, but impossible to find a source mentionning a jewish origin.

I played 10 years ago the first movement of the 3d concerto in a Master Class with France Clidat (who recorded it). She asked me at the beginning : "Do you know what is the origin of the opening theme ?". I responded that it is an original theme (i.e. without external reference) since I know that Rachamaninov was asked the same question after the creation of the concerto, and that his famous response was that the main theme has been written "by itself" and was a memory from his native Russia.
But she told me "No ! this is not known, but this is an askenazy traditionnal melody". She seemed very proud to claim this. Obviously, I could not argue, I was 17-18, but more than 10 years later I have never been able to find such a reference ... and France Clidat left us with her secret ...


Shostakovich used many Jewish themes in his music, and he was not Jewish.

Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2244940 03/11/14 08:14 PM
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Somebody else claims he was "Jewish by birth" in this thread:
http://boards.ancestry.com/thread.aspx?mv=flat&m=1&p=surnames.rachmaninoff:
Copied and pasted:
I do know that Sergie became a Christian and of course the
rest of the family shunned him in better words to say.
Because he was Jewish by birth, and becoming a Christian
was not to Kosher a thing to do.


But how does this person know he was a Jewish by birth?



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Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2951391 02/25/20 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
A friend of mine who is an accomplished musician(not a pianist)just told me that Rachmaninov was Jewish and the his original name was Rachman but he changed it. Having read two biographies of Rachmaninov and considering some of his music is based on Russian Christianity I found this very implausible. I also checked some of the websites about famous Jews and did not see Rachmaninov's name.

Of course, a very large percentage of famous Russian musicians are/were Jewish, but I never heard this about Rachmaninov.

Is there any truth to my friend's statements?




Wikipedia does not hint to any sort of Jewish ancestry.

The source of confusion may be due to a misreading further down in the Wiki:

Quote

In 1912, Rachmaninoff left the IRMS when he learned that a musician in an administrative post was dismissed for being Jewish.


IRMS is the Imperial Russian Musical Society. A quick scan, almost reads that Rachmaninoff was dismissed for being Jewish. No. Re-read it, again. Rachmaninoff left the IRMS after he learned that a Jewish musician was discriminated against.

Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2951483 02/25/20 05:28 PM
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Why are so many of the famous pianists Jewish (maybe more so in the past though)? Is it a cultural thing or a genetic thing?


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Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
CyberGene #2951521 02/25/20 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Why are so many of the famous pianists Jewish (maybe more so in the past though)? Is it a cultural thing or a genetic thing?
I would think that musicians in general are genetically predisposed to be musical - but how they ultimately express themselves musically is probably more related their natural gifts, their aptitude for a specific form of expression and/or the opportunities available to them. For example, some musicians have naturally beautiful and powerful voices. Some have the gift of creativity through composition and improvisation. Some have an affinity for playing keyboard instruments, and others an affinity for wind or percussion instruments. The environment in which one is raised can clearly affect the choices one makes and the opportunities one has. Perhaps its a myth that "so many famous pianists are Jewish. I can think of a number of famous pianists from the past and present who weren't and aren't Jewish. No doubt there are a number of agnostics and atheists in the mix as well. Of course, I appreciate any culture or religion that places a high value on musical expression. . smile


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Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
Carey #2951556 02/25/20 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Carey
Perhaps its a myth that "so many famous pianists are Jewish.
I definitely don't think it's a myth that so many famous pianists are Jewish. Here's a list of famous Jewish pianists which is huge compared to the percentage of Jews in the world.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Jewish_classical_pianists

Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
pianoloverus #2951613 02/25/20 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Carey
Perhaps its a myth that "so many famous pianists are Jewish.
I definitely don't think it's a myth that so many famous pianists are Jewish. Here's a list of famous Jewish pianists which is huge compared to the percentage of Jews in the world.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Jewish_classical_pianists


Thanks for sharing this. Very interesting. And here's a larger list of famous pianists, Jewish and otherwise. I don't have the bandwidth to cross reference to see how many on the list of Jewish pianists made it to the second list, but I would assume most did. Nevertheless, a significant percentage of these folks are Jewish. And for the record, I've probably never heard of 2/3's of the pianists on either list. smile

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_classical_pianists


Last edited by Carey; 02/25/20 11:46 PM.

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Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
CyberGene #2951663 02/26/20 02:05 AM
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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Why are so many of the famous pianists Jewish (maybe more so in the past though)? Is it a cultural thing or a genetic thing?

The violin soloists are much more Jewish than the pianists though. Most of the famous 20th century violinists were Jewish.

Pianists are relatively less Jewish, in comparison to the classical violinists.

Obviously, this was a cultural thing, as it was probably more popular to learn a musical instrument in certain cultures. Probably Jewish families encouraged children to learn the violin. As you can see today, the popularity of the piano with Chinese families.

Or in Brazil, it's popular to learn to football skills from a young age. Or in England, kids are supposed to play football at playtime (and not sit inside playing the school piano).

As for Rachmaninoff, he was not Jewish at all. He had some descent from Tatars, who are mostly Muslims.

In relation to the great Russian piano education that continues to this day - that was largely founded by Anton and Nikolai Rubinstein though, who had some Jewish and German cultural background in their childhood, if you read their biographies. Anton Rubinstein says (from Wikipedia) "Russians call me German, Germans call me Russian, Jews call me a Christian, Christians a Jew. Pianists call me a composer, composers call me a pianist. The classicists think me a futurist, and the futurists call me a reactionary. My conclusion is that I am neither fish nor fowl—a pitiful individual."

Anton Rubinstein is funny in relation to this forum, as according to Hoffman he practiced everything on a terrible out of tune Bechstein in his room, and didn't seem to care about the bad condition of his piano.

Last edited by 3am_stargazing; 02/26/20 02:14 AM.

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Re: Is this true about Rachmaninov?
BruceD #2951693 02/26/20 04:55 AM
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Quote
Rachmaninov was Jewish and his original name was Rachman but he changed it

This is just a joke, I heard it before. I also heard that this joke was invented by Rachmaninoff's best friend, Feodor Chaliapin, who was a big joker.

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