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Rachmaninov and Busoni

April 1st was the birthday of two pianist-composers: the Italian-Austrian Ferruccio Busoni in 1866 and the Russian Sergei Rachmaninov in 1873. Busoni, also a theoretician, spent his professional life in Berlin. Rachmaninov, also a conductor, left Russia for America in 1917.

Alistair Hinton comments:

The coincidence of the birthdays of Rachmaninov and Busoni is indeed remarkable - and has oft been remarked on. What is far less well known is the part-Austrian origins of the latter. It is indeed a tribute to M&V that it has revealed this vitally important nugget of musical history and singularly appropriate that it does so at a time when Busoni's star is at last very much in the ascendant.

What is now needed is that a scholar publish an article in M&V in which this aspect of Busoni is fleshed out for the reader. How welcome it will be to see in print the long concealed facts about Busoni's having not only transcribed one of Schönberg's Op 11 piano pieces but actually taught him briefly. Those familiar with Busoni's very touching Mozart Aphorisms will finally discover the true significance of Schönberg's statement, late in life, when berating someone who had described him as an auto-didact - 'I am a pupil of Mozart!'; as we can now see, he meant that he was a pupil of Busoni but felt that the most effective way to convey this to those who would understand, without actually admitting it directly, was to invoke their mutually revered Mozart thus. What a pity he had not gone farther and claimed that his twelve-note method of composition would ensure the supremacy of Austrian music for the next hundred years.

So - any offers from those musicologists among M&V's readership for the essay Busoni: Founder and Moving Spirit of the Second Viennese School?

(Note to Ronald Stevenson, Antony Beaumont and Marc-André Roberge: don't all rush at once...)

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