Rachmaninoff in Tucson

From Welz Kauffman, True Concord Managing Director — Did you know that the great pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff played a recital in Tucson in 1925? Did you know that we believe he stayed the night at the Hotel Congress? Did you know that this Tucson moment was likely a happy accident of the composer disembarking in Tucson from his Chicago to Los Angeles train to stretch his legs – and the train departed before he could get back on?!

The clever music-lovers of Tucson quickly assembled a performance opportunity. The exact record-keeping around Rachmaninoff’s Southwest sojourn is murky at best but the Lucerne, Switzerland-based Rachmaninoff Foundation is working to clarify it.

The Foundation was created by the late Alexander Rachmaninoff, Sergei’s grandson.  Alexander appointed me the Foundation’s American envoy to promote the unjustly neglected operas, First Symphony and First Piano Sonata. The Foundation’s base, the Lucerne Villa designed and built by Sergei himself and magnificently situated on the shores of Lake Lucerne, has recently been deeded to the Canton of Lucerne and will become an important study center for artists and scholars.

Just before he passed away, Alexander Rachmaninoff presented me with a treasured gift from Sergei’s study in the Villa. From the bookcase next to “SR”’s spectacular Steinway, Alexander selected a score of the Vespers and presented it to me as a gift for my work on behalf of his grandfather – it is a great treasure to me, one that I will return to the Foundation at some future date to keep the Villa’s Library intact.

All of us at True Concord hope you’ll join us for Tucson’s “own” Rachmaninoff, as we perform his Vespers – a work of choral perfection – in March 2023.