All by Myself: the Rachmaninov original

All by Myself: the Rachmaninov original


norman lebrecht

April 25, 2021

New York composer and Youtuber Adam Neely traces the Celine Dion hit to a melody by Sergei Rachmaninov in the second piano concerto.

The Rachmaninov estate received 12 percent of the song’s royalties.

Who knew?


  • E says:

    What a coincidence! I watched this just yesterday, for the “most elegant key change!” Neely’s mother, a singer and voice teacher, comments on the technical
    aspects of producing such a high note and that is molto interessante. I like this mother very much.

  • Mervon Mehta says:

    Thousands knew back when Eric Carmen’s ‘version’ first hit the airways. I remember discussing it with Andre Watts in the mid 90’s just after he played the concerto at Ravinia. This is not news but is quite well explained in the video.

  • christopher storey says:

    Gawd, what an awful noise

  • Anonymous says:

    Great song. Fabulous Rach 2. What’s not to like? Don’t be so snobbish.
    Two types of music, good or bad!

    • christopher storey says:

      Anonymous : Nothing to do with the nusic…. the music’s fine. It was the screeching voice which put me off my dinner !

  • J Barcelo says:

    The Rach 2nd piano concerto is under copyright? The estate gets royalties? I’ve been playing this concerto – viola, not piano – since college days – ’75 – and it’s always been Kalmus reprints. I own a Dover score, and they only print public domain material. Anyway, it’s nice to know that Rachmaninoff is appreciated by listeners from many perspectives. Maybe he was a greater composer than the modernists gave him credit for.

    • Ben G. says:

      I think it was Stravinsky who said that Rachmaninoff was “the greatest film music composer he had ever heard”…

      Insult or compliment– or maybe both?

    • Name that tune says:

      I have the same question. Rach #2 was published in Russia in 1902, so it can’t be under copyright. But to so flagrantly plagiarize a theme – while a composer’s family is still very much alive (and living in Costa Rica) I guess had some implications. One wonders if Walter Murphy encountered the same problem when he wrote his hit song “A Fifth of Beethoven” – did anyone claim royalties over that? And as we all know, Lloyd Webber got into some hot water with the Puccini estate for slipping a bit of Fanciulla into Phantom of the Opera.

  • J. Muenster says:

    I’ll tell you what most don’t know….that song “All By Myself ” was first put out there by Eric Carmen (not Celine Dion), who had an ugly habit of pirating excerpts from classical pieces, including Chopin. Chopin’s music was pretty much in the public domain, but Rachmaninoff’s estate was alive and well, and Carmen was sued for several million.

  • Ben G. says:

    Another fabulous and original version can also be heard being performed by the comic duet Igudesman + Joo. Wait till 1:10 to hear it:

  • Chloe Scott says:

    I saw this video the other day and liked it quite a bit. I already knew the story about Eric Carmen’s song from a while ago but didn’t know that Celine sings it too. She does a good job but I still prefer the original

  • Bill Murphy says:

    Seriously old news. Eric Carmen had a hit with it 40-odd years ago (“Who knew??” – only several million Raspberries fans.) The Rachmaninov Estate jumped on it immediately. What Carmen didn’t know was that the Estate was represented by his own firm of attorneys. There was a very embarrassing phone call, apparently.

  • Craig says:

    How many people really watch this entire video? my God!!!

  • eber pena says:

    I knew from years ago , since the northamerican Eric Carmen
    (a Jewish russian descendent )
    composed all by myself and gave the credits of his masterpiece to the Russian composer ..whom he was taught in his very early piano classes..