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Rachmaninoff’s relative against his remains being returned to Russia

September 07, 2015, 20:22 UTC+3 NEW YORK
The composer’s burial place dispute started last month, when Russia's culture minister said that Rachmaninoff’s remains should be exhumed and sent to Russia
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Sergey Rachmaninoff

Sergey Rachmaninoff

© Fotokhronika TASS/reproduction

NEW YORK, September 7. /TASS/. The dispute over Russia’s famous composer, pianist and conductor Sergey Rachmaninoff remains return to his motherland from the US, backed by Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, continues as Russian genius’s great-great granddaughter Susan Wanamaker is against the initiative.

"To dig up and move his body would be an immense violation of the privacy he so prized," Wanamaker said in an interview for the New York Times, published on Monday. "After fleeing from one country to the next in life, as he did, is it too much to ask that he be allowed to rest in peace with his family? I don’t think so."

The composer’s burial place dispute started last month, when Vladimir Medinsky said that Rachmaninoff’s remains should be exhumed and sent to Russia. "The composer dreamed of being buried in Russia, that’s why returning his remains to his motherland would be a great deed," he said, according to a report on the ministry’s website.

According to the interview, Wanamaker said Rachmaninoff had no such dream. She also took issue with biographical sketches that said he had never wanted his final resting place to be in Russia or Switzerland.

The villa in Switzerland, called Senar, the name was a combination of the first two letters of his first name; the first two letters of his wife’s first name, Natalie; and a final R, for Rachmaninoff.

"He held Senar in very high regard, but he never wished to be buried there," she said.

And while he died in Beverly Hills, California, on March 28, 1943, "the family’s roots in New York were deeper than their roots in Beverly Hills," Wanamaker said.

Rachmaninoff, who left his homeland to escape the Russian Revolution in 1917, had rented a house on Riverside Drive when he arrived in Manhattan in the 1920s. He became an American citizen eight weeks before he died.

Rachmaninoff was buried in a town of Valhalla about 25 miles outside New York City, with his wife Natalia and daughter Irina. A three-bar Russian Orthodox cross stands behind Rachmaninoff’s tomb.

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