When a Lifetime Isn’t Enough for Music

Courtesy of Millikin School of Music

Courtesy of Millikin School of Music

Nothing is more invigorating than a group of musicians coming together to honor one of the world’s greatest composers. In memorial of one such, Millikin University’s School of Music held a 150th anniversary recital for Sergei Rachmoninoff, one of the most brilliant Russian composers of his time.

Tatiana Shustova, the main performing pianist, quoted Rachmaninoff in her introduction, “‘Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.’ You can’t really talk about Rachmaninoff in your spare time. There’s really not enough time to.”

While music is known to feed the soul and nourish the heart, a mere lifetime can never be long or wide enough for us to partake in, and appreciate, the vast opportunities that music holds. Though at this recital, the performance put on by these musicians was as rich as one could hope for, spanning the repertoire of Rachmoninoff’s life. 

Best known for being one of the last representatives and contributors to Romanticism, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s music is intense and passionate, while also portraying an overall calmness throughout each piece.

“Overall it was a very nice atmosphere, very calm.” Risako Hida, a Music major, said. “I was always thinking Mozart has a very clear sound, and happy, like positive music. And Rachmaninoff is deep and more dark.”

Just a brief listen to almost any of Rachmaninoff’s work, especially in comparison to Mozart, is evidently more powerful and full of vigor in contrast. Like with most artists, that can be attributed to the inner turmoil he dealt with, as the composer had experienced many losses and hardships during his life.

However, not all of his pieces are full of intensity, as Italian Polka no.2 demonstrates a peppy, dance-like rhythm. The audience seemed to sway in time as trumpeter David Moore and pianist Tatiana Shustova playfully interacted with each other from across the stage. 

Another such piece performed, Trio Elagiaque in G Major, no. 1, op. post., featured violinist Ion-Alexandru Malaimare, cellist Amy Catron, and pianist Tatiana Shustova trading off sections, repeating and harmonizing in response to each other. The sound was energizing, almost electric, as each musician respectively had the opportunity to shine in their own unique way.

“I came to support the professors that I have,” Grant Gillen, an Instrumental Performance major, said. “Amy Catron, David Moore, and Dr. Kim as well. I love all of them.” Most of the performers were faculty members, all coming together to showcase and honor the highly regarded composer.

“I got to hear people sing.” Gillen said. “It’s not like there was just one instrument for an hour, it was actually carrying a variety of things, which I thought was really interesting. I don’t get to hear a lot of Rachmaninoff’s music, so it was a good opportunity.”

That was the goal of the performance, both to celebrate and bring the joys of Rachmaninoff’s compositions to a group of people who are either music enthusiasts, or those who rarely have the opportunity to partake in these types of experiences. 

“I have a history of playing piano for about 10 years,” Hannah Rule, a BA Theatre Performance Studies major, said. “I was like, ‘I should go and honor that history, and learn more about this composer.’ I didn’t know him before this, you know.

“The overall atmosphere of this performance was very simple, very sophisticated.” Rule said. “I felt it was really enjoyable. I really like that there were some voices, a bunch of strings like cello, violin, and piano for every single piece. I thought that was a good mixture.”

The influence of music over our hearts and minds is a powerful tool to bring people together, to unite all as one, no matter what walk of life we are in. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of classical music to be able to appreciate and enjoy some Rachmaninoff in your spare time.