Just in: Putin wants to buy Rachmaninov estate

Just in: Putin wants to buy Rachmaninov estate


norman lebrecht

October 02, 2013

At a meeting today of the Presidential Council for Culture, the pianist Denis Matsuev mentioned that Rachmaninov’s villa Senar, near Lucerne, was coming up for sale by auction. The estate has been thrown into confusion by the death last November of the composer’s grandson, Alexander B. Rachmaninov.



Matsuev said the house had been kept as it was in the composer’s time and contained, aside from his piano, many manuscripts and mementos.

How much? said Putin.

18 million Swiss francs, said Mastuev.

Let’s see what we can do, said the President.



  • Una says:

    Better than going derelict as it might in Britain 🙂

  • Christian Thompson says:

    Anal comment of the day.

    It’s actually just “Senar”, using Se from Serge, Na from Natalia (his wife) and R for Rachmaninoff.

    Also, Rachmaninoff in this case should be spelt with “ff” at the end. Alexander refused to read any correspondence about his grandfather where the surname was spelt any other way.

    • sdReader says:

      LOL. You complain of an “anal comment” and then “ff” up your own!

    • sdReader says:

      Oops. Scratch that. You mean your own comment. It took a second!

    • Doug says:

      Rachmaninoff himself spelled his last name with two f’s at the end. And that, my friends, is why it’s spelled with two f’s at the end. Period.

      • Herbert Pauls says:

        Indeed. And it is worth mentioning that even New Grove finally had the humility to switch to two f’s for the second edition (2001). In the first edition of New Grove (1980) they were still stubbornly hanging on to “Rakhmaninov”, which was also in the 1954 edition.

  • timwalton3 says:

    Sounds fine as long as they don’t allow him to remove anything back to Russia. Unfortunately most sane people wouldn’t trust Putin to butter a piece of toast. Any problems in his way either get locked up, disappear or get bumped off.

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    Indeed. One of my favorite pet peeves. BTW, same about Prokofieff – not Prokofiev.

  • Joel V. says:

    Liadov – Liadoff… ?

    But my Russian friend says it should be Rachmaninov – “definitely not” Rachmaninoff.

    Any Russians here ?

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      What your Russian friend thinks does “definitely not” matter. What matters is how Rachmaninoff himself chose to spell his name in the Western alphabet. He lived, published, concertized and recorded in the West for decades and he always spelled and signed his name that way. It’s also what it says on his tombstone. That spelling, BTW, was the – at the time – common form of transliteration of Russian into French. There was a lot of cultural exchange between France and Russia before WWI which is why many emigrants headed there first after the October revolution. That’s also why it is “Koussevitzky”, not “Kusevitsky”. Or why the French pianist Béroff spells his name that way (he was born in France but his family were Bulgarian immigrants).

      Liadov/Liadoff doesn’t matter since he never lived in the West and so never chose a specific Western form of his name. Lyadov would be the most common way of current transliteration into English.

    • I’m not Russian, but as any speaker of the Russian language knows, a terminal “v” (Cyrillic “в” … in the spelling of pre-1918 imperial Russia it is followed by a hard sign “ъ” at the end of the word) is pronounced like “f” (or “ff”). Most Western languages pronounce the letter “v” with vocalization regardless of its position within the word, German being one exception. Therefore, in order to avoid a mispronunciation, it seems appropriate to spell such words with “ff” instead of “v” although it is just one Cyrillic character and not two. The same dilemma applies to the Cyrillic “x” which is transliterated as “ch” or “kh” depending on the target language. And the Latin “x” is transliterated in Russian as the Cyrillic equivalent of “ks” (Alexander = Aleksandr).

      Of course, there are many things which are inevitably lost in translation in either direction … Russian knows no equivalent to the Latin letter “h”, for example, so “Haydn” and “Händel” become “Gaydn” and “Gendel”… Also, the many variants due to soft and hard signs in Russian are usually impossible to transliterate correctly.

      As most people have rightly commented, it was Rachmaninoff’s own choice to spell his name with two “f”s, so we should respect that.

  • Considering the location (lakeside property at Lake Lucerne) and the size of the lot which has several buildings, plus the historical significance of the property, 18 million seems quite cheap compared with the usual Swiss prices for villas such as this.

    I hope they didn’t destroy the original wrought-iron gate! The place rather looks like Ft. Knox at present.

  • thelma23 says:

    The idea of ​​buying the villa Rachmaninov “Senart” (the name is derived from the first letters of Rachmaninoff and his wife Natalia and their families) of the Russian Federation has repeatedly voiced pianist Andrei Gavrilov and Denis Matsuev. Latest on the recent meeting of the Council for Culture at the president appealed to Vladimir Putin with the request. Putin responded positively and said that already aware of the problem.

    For Vladimir Medina in a possible finding of a small Russian enclave near Lucerne patriotic important aspect: the Minister concerned that the West Rachmaninoff often called an American composer….