Sunday, July 18, 2004


The hands of composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninov.

If there were a classical composer who was most likely to ever supplant Hector Berlioz as the leading light of my musical world, it would almost certainly be Sergei Rachmaninov. I'll write a longer post about Rachmaninov and my appreciation of him another time, but for now I note that in reading a little bit about him recently, I am reminded that apparently his hands were enormous, able to span over an octave-and-a-half on a piano keyboard. This "wingspan" allowed him to pull off feats of pianistic skill that would defy people of, well, smaller hands.

I found the above picture this morning, and it doesn't quite convey the massive size of Rachmaninov's hands as well as I was hoping, but you still get the sense of it -- look how long those fingers are, for one.

(BTW, Rachmaninov's three symphonies -- the first and third are wonderful, and the second is just transcendent -- are available in a budget-priced "two-for-the-price-of-one" set here, performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and conducted brilliantly by Vladimir Ashkenazy. I own these recordings in their earlier, singly-issued, full-price incarnations -- and I've never regretted buying them.)

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