Rach Man Rocks!

Rach Man inspires me.  Seriously.


Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra.  

In the midst of my 11pm – 2am radio show, I found Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2..  I was absolutely awestruck.  Months later, home from college on the weekend, Mom gave me tickets for the symphony, that would perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.   Strange timing.  At some point  I read about Rachmaninoff’s depression.  In his letters he referenced his depression as the “black melancholy”, most prevalent between 1897 and 1900.  

* Note: I sometimes  refer to Sergei Rachmanioff as Rach Man.

Prior to Rach Man’s black melancholy kicking in, his 1st symphony … “Symphony No. 1” … was performed in March of 1897.  Here is a good description of the significance of Symphony No. 1, provided by Brent Woo from UCLA in one of his documented works:

The premiere of Symphony No. 1 on March 15/27, 1897, was a significant, (negative), turning point in Rachmaninoff’s career. No longer the wonder child of the Moscow Conservatory, he was mercilessly shot down by the critics after making his first steps as a Free Artist (a title conferred to graduates of the conservatory).”  Brent Woo from UCLA / http://www.international.ucla.edu/media/files/woo-journal.pdf

Sergei Rachmanioff, a younger man / http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rachmaninoff_1900.jpg

My heart hurts for this young man, getting raked over the coals by critics.  For two and a half years after his performance (his first symphony) Rach Man did not compose a single new large work for his new project.  And it was about this time, in 1900 January, that Dr. Nikolai Dahl began meeting with Sergei every day using an approach called “Autosuggesative Therapy”.  *NOTE:  This had nothing to do with selling automobiles.  

Dr. Dahl and his friends encouraged, empowered, Rach Man to start writing again.  It is profound: Sergei Rachmanioff began writing one of the most powerful, most beautiful, classical pieces of all time … his Piano Concerto No. 2 … in his three-year battle with depression.  One thought is that Rach Man’s courageous choice to start writing again, in spite of his own doubts and his own woundedness, played an unfathomably important role in his healing from the black melancholy.  

I am intensely drawn to this part of Rach Man’s story for several reasons:

  • my own personal experience,
  • the privilege of walking with clients for the last 17 years and experiencing their healing,
  • what I have learned from friends and other bloggers,
  • my own reading and research,
  • and the positive power of healthy community.  

Some of us find ourselves in different places, intensely challenging, thick with anguish. Whether it be “the dark night of the soul”, or the desert, or a hellish place,  or isolated – alienated – desolated – negated, when we are there, we wonder if we will ever get out.

The “aloneness” is unavoidable, even when friends are around.  One cannot escape the reality that “you are”, or “we are”, or “I am”, “going through it”.  But at times, certain people can help us.  But those certain people have to be the right people, at the right time, and they need to be able to help in the right way.  And we may not know, at the time what that right way is.  My hope is that this post successfully emphasizes the power of community; the power of music; the power of getting back into that which we are called; and the power of our own fortitude and vision and commitment … to do our own work in the healing process.

Sergei Rachmanioff Piano Concerto No. 2 / http://imslp.org/wiki/Piano_Concerto_No.2,_Op.18_(Rachmaninoff,_Sergei)