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Pic of the Week: You’re Invited Edition

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From the Sergei Rachmaninoff Archive. Gift of Oxana Siloti. Click to view larger.

This week’s featured image is a charming collage assembled to honor today’s birthday celebrant. Russian Composer Sergei Rachmaninoff was born on this day in 1873. This hand-made birthday invitation was donated by Oxana Siloti, a relative of the maestro. The Music Division is home to the Sergei Rachmaninoff Archive, forty-two feet of shelf space which includes holograph music manuscripts, published musical scores and books, correspondence,  clippings, photographs and other materials.

Rachmaninoff made his first records on the Edison label, including his renowned Prelude in C Sharp Minor. Rachmaninoff made his first records on the Edison label, including his renowned Prelude in C Sharp Minor.  He left his native Russia after the revolution of 1917 and made frequent performance tours of the United States and Europe. Sergei Rachmaninoff died on March 28, 1943 in Beverly Hills, and is buried  at the Kensico Cemetery near Valhalla, New York.

Signing Rachmaninoff to the Edison label was quite a coup for the company, which was not known for hiring famous performers. Thomas A. Edison, though, disliked Rachmaninoff’s style, which he likened to “pounding,” and Rachmaninoff was kept for only ten Edison recordings. Rachmaninoff was subsequently signed by Victor. You can listen to the maestro’s Edison recordings of “Prelude in C sharp minor op. 3” and “Second Hungarian Rhapsodie, part I” in the collection of Edison Diamond Disc Recordings in American Memory.

Thanks to Karen Lund, Digital Projects Coordinator, Music Division, for her notes on Rachmaninoff’s Edison recordings.

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