You may not think this is an appropriate title for this blog, considering the murderous invasion by the Russian government and military on the people of Ukraine, but there is a reason for it.
Recently a friend of mine told me that he had learned to play a very special piece of music when he was only 12 years old. That piece was written by one of the most beloved composers in the world. That composer and pianist was Rachmaninoff. (1873-1943) His composition was Prelude in G Minor , which happens to be one of my favorites.
Sergei Rachmaninoff had to flee in exile from Russia to America after World War 1 and the Russian Revolution. He knew that the old Russia he knew was gone and that he could not live under such tyranny. He had also composed great music for the Christian faith in choral works, which was not allowed during many years after the country became Communist. Rachmaninoff had an amazing memory and could play the works that he had only heard performed.
Some of his music seemed to be lost. However, someone had brought it to America and the works by Rachmaninoff and the liturgy of St John Chrysostom was found in its entirety in St Vladimir Orthodox Seminary in New York State by Dr. Anthony Antolini. In the Library of Congress, Antolini found the old, micro film of the conductor’s score, which gave him the ability to put all parts of the music together.
Rachmaninoff ‘s music was also banned during the reign of Lenin and Stalin, while there was great persecution of the Orthodox Church. Yet, sacred music and great music, like that of Rachmaninoff, still touches the soul of the Russians and people all over the world.
The following video tells this story and the relentless search by one man, the faith of the Russians and their love of music, who even today must deal with their own situation in Russia, as the world looks on. Americans eventually came to perform for the Russians with their conductor, Anthony Antolini. They were met with great enthusiasm by the Russian people and also in Kiev, who had never heard an American chorus.
Good came out of Russia and even though Rachmaninoff is buried here in the United States, his ties with his beloved Russia and his yearning for the homeland that he knew as a boy lived on.
We pray that someday…sometime…the connection between cultures will once again be bonded…and there will be peace. God help the people of Ukraine and bring His truth to the people of Russia.
Video 2 Piano… Rachmaninoff – Prelude in G Minor