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Russian-born composer and virtuoso Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was unquestionably the foremost pianist of his day and among the greatest of all time. As is often true with such people, he was also a prodigy and began performing publicly at a young age.

Rachmaninoff told the story about how, as a child, he was giving a piano recital. He began with a Beethoven sonata that had several long rests in it. During one of those long rests, a motherly lady leaned forward, patted him on the shoulder, and said kindly,

"My dear, play us something you know ..."

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Artur Rubinstein gave a dinner party in honor of Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff (1873-1943), in the course of which the composer mentioned that he believed the Grieg piano concerto to be the greatest ever written. Rubinstein replied that he had just recorded it.

Rachmaninoff insisted upon hearing the recording then and there. Whereupon, Rubinstein put on the proofs of the recording and Rachmaninoff listened, eyes closed, to the entire performance without saying a word.

When the concerto was finished he opened his eyes and thoughtfully commented,

"Piano out of tune ..."

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You're listening to Sergei Rachmaninoff's
"Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Opus 43
Variation 18: Andante Cantabile
Performed by Rachmaninoff at the piano in 1943