Breaking: Russia cannot afford to buy Rachmaninov’s house

Breaking: Russia cannot afford to buy Rachmaninov’s house


norman lebrecht

June 17, 2016

Blaming international sanctions and domestic economic difficulties, the Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky has abandoned his attempt to purchase the composer’s Swiss lakeside home, named Senar, for the Russian nation.

The purchase had been ordered by President Putin on the advice of the pianist Denis Matsuev, at an estimated price of 17 million Swiss francs.

Vladimir Medinsky had also talked of repatriating Rachmaninov’s remains from America.

rachmaninov grave


But after all the huff and puff, it appears that both plans are unrealistic, Medinsky said today.

The rouble has fallen, the cost of Lucerne property has risen, the ownership structure is ‘complex’ and sanctions are really starting to bite.

Rest in peace, Sergei Vasilievitch.




  • Listener says:

    Indeed, what a relief for the once-civilised world: communists have lost their interest in purchasing a piece of European cultural heritage – the refuge of one of those few who had been quick enough to escape the rotten teeth of proletariat’s jaws!

  • Olassus says:

    Too bad we are doing this to Russia. They were good friends until Obama took offense at Putin, like a stupid girl, and began abusing our power. Hopefully it ends in January.

    • Olassus says:

      Separately, have just finished studying EMI’s Leif Ove Andsnes/Antonio Pappano cycle of the concertos (2005, 2009, 2010) and concluded it is ruined by Pappano’s chronic miscalculation of rhythm, most conspicuously at the end of the D-Minor work, but really throughout — too bad, because Andsnes’ highly lyrical phrasing is consistent and unusual among pianists who have recorded all four pieces.

      • Furzwängler says:

        What has this got to do with the fact that Russia is now apparently too impecunious to be able to purchase a house near Lucerne for a paltry 17m Swiss Francs? Perhaps they would be more successful if the ceased spending vast amounts of scarce money on armaments.

        Yop tvoyu …., as they would have said in the former Sovok.

    • John says:

      Ah, you’re so right. George W. Bush looked into Putie’s eyes and saw his soul. Putie looked into Georgie’s eyes and saw an amateur fool that could be easily rolled.

    • William Safford says:

      “Too bad we are doing this to Russia. They were good friends until Putin violated the sovereignty of Ukraine and the treaty it signed with Ukraine and several countries, and invaded and seized Crimea.”


  • John Reed says:

    Someone above is weak in knowledge saying that Russians nowdays are Soviets.

    • Furzwängler says:

      I fear someone above is weak in Russian terminology. Sovok was/is not only a perjorative term for Homo Sovieticus, but also for the USSR as a whole. And sadly the Soviet Union is exactly what angry, aggressive and repressive Russia is beginning increasingly to resemble.

      • Holly Golightly says:

        And it demonstrates what happens when a nation is soaked in vodka and chooses to look away; I mean that literally and metaphorically.

        The comments about George Bush are just banal and ignorant. You get that sort of thing.

  • Richard Dubugnon says:

    I regret to say that you are misinformed. The house cannot be sold for family reasons ; so far no decision has been made between the heirs, the grand-grand children, since Alexander, the grandson, passed away. So it has nothing to do with all your russophobic theories, guys, sorry to disappoint you.

    Как всегда, чем меньше знаете, тем больше говорите !

  • Tim Walton says:

    I notice that the heading of the blog is Rachmaninov, but the gravestone is Rachmaninoff. I was told by a Russian that the spelling of the name with two ‘ff’s was at the insistence of the composer.

    Perhaps everyone should respect the wishes of the great composer.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      UK usage is ‘v’. Us is ‘ff’.

      • Tim Walton says:

        Rubbish. It has nothing to do with the UK or us. It is the specific wish of the composer and you should respect that. booked and Hawkesbury ate the main publishers of Rachmaninov’s works and they comply with the composers wishes so. So can you.

  • Andrew Moravcsik says:

    In my day job I study, among other things, Western sanctions policy toward Russia. This story is improbable: I suspect it of being Russian anti-sanctions disinformation. Use a little common sense. The sanctions do not prohibit this sort of investment. 17 million is not a large sum of money. Yes, there has been a decline in Russian reserves, but they are still substantial. Mr. Putin could easily activate official or unofficial channels to provide it–Russian government money or some generous billionaire–if this were really as much of a personal priority as the story implies. My guess is the Russians had some other reason for not doing it (the story alludes to ownership questions) and the PR people decided to drum up a bit more opposition in the West to the sanctions.