Dream Gates

Dream Gates


The spirit of Rachmaninoff

posted by Robert Moss

Valentina Lisitsa

I was privileged last night to be present at a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in which a virtuoso Ukrainian-born concert pianist, Valentina Lisista, played with stunning grace and spirit. She sent me deep into Russia, sometimes under the Northern Lights. She was perfectly attuned to the composer, and brought his work into vivid life.

I was reminded of how another gifted contemporary pianist who specializes in Rachmaninoff was partly mentored in dreams by the great Russian composer himself.  Olga Kern, a lovely and gifted young Russian pianist, has won many international awards. She has a remarkable musical pedigree. Her ancestor Anna Kern inspired Pushkin to write a love poem. Olga’s great-great-great-grandmother was a pianist and a friend of Tchaikovsky. Her great-great-grandmother sang on stage accompanied by Rachmaninoff. Her grandfather is an oboist still active at eighty-six as a professor at Gnesyns Music Academy in Moscow. Both her parents are pianists.

At seventeen, Olga Kern was the youngest participant in the first Rachmaninoff Piano Competition in Moscow. She had a very interesting mentor. Before the second round, she dreamed that Rachmaninoff was playing a piano alone in a huge auditorium, waiting for her. He looked up at her and said, “Olga, I’ve been waiting for you. You should play something for me; we have a lesson scheduled.” Olga was amazed, thinking, “Goodness, it’s Rachmaninoff!” Still stunned, she sat down and played a piece from her competition program — the Barcarolle.

Rachmaninoff listened intently. When she was finished, he said, “Good. And now I’ll show you how I play it.” He proceeded to play the Barcarolle in his own style — “phenomenally,” Olga recalled, “a bit dryly, yet impulsively, without pedals.”

Olga woke up and called out, “Mama, mama, I saw Rachmaninoff in my dream!” Her mother was troubled by this. She asked Olga’s father if he thought she was practicing too hard.

Inspired by her private lesson with Rachmaninoff, Olga proceeded to win the competition organized in his name. She described the rush of energy that flowed from the dream as a “hurricane” that swept her through the second and third rounds of the contest.

Prior to the dream, Olga had never heard Rachmaninoff’s own rendition of the Barcarolle. This might seem surprising, given her family’s musical history. But the time was 1992, post-Soviet society was a shambles, and even getting basic food was — as a Russian friend living in Petersburg at the time puts it — “an extreme sport.” Recordings of Rachmaninoff were available only from private dealers at very fancy prices.

A year after winning the Rachmaninoff competition, when Olga was on tour in Japan, she was able to purchase a CD set of his complete works. When she played his rendition of the Barcarolle, she found that Rachmaninoff played it exactly as he had done in her dream. Olga Kern went on to honor her dream tutor by playing all his piano concertos in a tour of several South African cities to great critical acclaim. Her international career took off in earnest after she won a gold medal at the Van Cliburn Competition in 2001.

I did not have the opportunity to ask Valentina Lisitsa whether she has dreamed of Rachmaninoff, or felt his presence, but I sense that the spirit of the great composer is still quite active on the musical scene.

Part of this article is adapted from The Secret History of Dreaming by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.

 



Previous Posts

The departed are dreaming with us
One of my driving purposes in writing The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead was to help  some of the many people in our society who are hungry for confirmation that communication with the departed is not “weird” or “unnatural”, let alone impossible, and that it is possible to extend love and for

posted 4:39:32am Dec. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Dream dates: Sir Christopher Wren dreams a cure
An intriguing account by John Aubrey of how the celebrated architect who recreated St.Paul's after the Great Fire of London dreamed a simple cure for a kidney ailment. I'll leave the narrative in Aubrey's voice. Note that "reins" in late 17th century English (as in modern French) means "kidneys".

posted 11:27:57pm Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »

The origin and power of the shaman's drum
The shaman’s primary tool for journeying is the single-headed frame drum, the type we use in Active Dreaming circles. I am constantly astonished, though no longer surprised, by how quickly this ancient instrument can help even the most rational, cognicentric Westerner to enter another state of bei

posted 6:15:48am Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »

Thanksgiving and affirming
I am in favor of affirmations. At a certain period in my life, I did not think much of selp-help gurus who were pushing them. I still have major reservations about affirmations that seem to be pitched from the head instead of the heart, and either project ego-driven "gimme" agendas or , alternativel

posted 1:54:18am Nov. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Jung's underworld journey
Let's be candid: Jung's Red Book is not for the faint-hearted. Yes, there are passages of incandescent beauty, perhaps beyond any other of his writings. There are also vertiginous falls into places of rank terror and screaming madness. In my own reading, there was a moment when I wanted to throw the

posted 9:49:30am Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.