Exploring Music

Archive for November, 2009

Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead

Today we featured Rachmaninoff’s tone poem Isle of the Dead, inspired by this painting of Arnold Böcklin:

Isle of the Dead


Interestingly, Böcklin also painted a contrasting work, Isle of Life, in 1888:

Isle of Life

Rachmaninoff quotes/pictures

Cydne Gillard found some fantastic quotes about this week’s composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff:

I am a Russian composer, and the land of my birth has inevitably influenced my temperament and outlook. My music is the product of my temperament, and so it is Russian Music. I never consciously attempt to write Russian music; or any other kind of music, for that matter. I have been strongly influenced by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, but I have never consciously imitated anybody. I try to make my music speak simply and directly that which is in my heart at the time I am composing. If there is love there, or bitterness, or sadness, or religion, these moods become part of my music, and it becomes either beautiful or bitter or sad or religious. For music is as much a part of my living as breathing and eating. I compose music because I must give expression to my feeling, just as I talk because I must give utterance to my thoughts.”

The New Book of Modern Composers, David Ewen. Knopf. 1961

“Some people achieve a kind of immortality just by the totality with which they do or do not possess some quality or characteristic. Rachmaninov’s immortalizing totality was his scowl. He was a six-and–a-half-foot-tall scowl.”


“Although certain of his works have enjoyed a phenomenal vogue with the public, Rachmaninov has no proper place in a book on contemporary music.”

Introduction to Twentieth Century Music, Joseph Machlis. W.W. Norton. 1961

And be sure to look through all three pages of some very interesting pictures posted to Rachmaninoff.org:    http://is.gd/4XmMz

Rachmaninoff's hand

Rachmaninoff's hand

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