Rachmaninov in Alaska

My friend and I first met more than twenty years ago when I lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We have stayed in touch for all those years though, being the travelers we both are, we keep having to change our gathering place. This time we met in Alaska. Five days is hardly enough to discover the vast Alaskan beauty but it was all we had.

On Friday we followed the Glenn Highway, some hundred miles northeast of Anchorage. Music always played an important part in our visits since we both started out as pianists. We have joined forces on numerous occasions, in all kinds of different venues scattered around the globe and over the years we have developed a wide interest in different styles of music. On this trip we tried to match landscapes to voices we heard inside.

Shorty after leaving Palmer, the road started to climb, the landscape opened up and presented us with breathtaking views of the knik river. While descending unto the river our choice of music just happened to be Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto. While the car rolled down the hill, the pianist played his introductory notes. We stopped at the riverbed and just at that moment, the orchestra joined in. The surging river, a perfect fit to Rachmaninov’s surging main theme…

Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943) was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor and during his time he was widely considered one of the finest musicians of his day. His second piano concerto was composed around 1900 and confirmed his recovery from a clinical depression and writers block that lasted several years. Rachmaninov dedicated this concerto to Nicolai Dahl, a physician who had done much to restore his self-confidence.