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Breaking Rachmaninoff

With Billy Joel, John Malkovich, Yuja Wang, Andrew Litton, Mischa Maisky, Lily Maisky, Paavo Järvi, Hyung-ki Joo, Eric Carmen, Lucy Landymore, Czech Philharmonic

Much like Rachmaninoff, who struggled to be taken seriously as he stuck to his post-romantic compositional style, in this documentary, Igudesman - also an immigrant and a prolific composer - tries to be honest about the innate insecurities of composers. The fact that Rachmaninoff was born on the 1st of April lends itself perfectly to Igudesman’s famously hilarious antics. So what to do? Easy: simply send Sergei a whole lot of text messages trying to invite him to his own celebration!
As Igudesman travels the world, interviewing celebrity musicians from various genres, he explores various subjects with his intimate, fun, yet insightful line of questioning. 

Loved by showbiz greats, Rachmaninoff’s melodies have been repeatedly turned into songs and hits by Frank Sinatra and Eric Carmen. Even in Hollywood movies, his name is synonymous with the grand gestures of romance, while he himself was an extremely private and nostalgic person who spent years in his home in his Lucerne villa, which he had rebuilt in the style of his childhood home.
During interviews with top music stars, Igudesman gets behind how Rachmaninoff redefined pianistic standards- even if it was just due to his unusually large hands – as well as how he coped with depression, and addresses how problematic and common depression is for artists.
And last and probably least, is it really true that Rachmaninoff spelt his name with ff at the end, in order to make it sound louder?

“Breaking Rachmaninoff” aims to be the most humorous and at the same time, the most personal and moving documentary about the great Sergei.


Prog. No.
Music genre
52 mins
Aleksey Igudesman
WDR, ORF, Only Hands Small Production
Production year