At its Nov. 28 City Council Liaison/Rodeo Drive/Special Events/Holiday Program Committee meeting, Mayor Lili Bosse and Councilmember Lester Friedman reviewed plans for a series of upcoming events celebrating the world-renowned Russian pianist, conductor and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff in Beverly Hills. In honor of Rachmaninoff ‘s 150th birthday, the Beverly Hills Community Services Department partnered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) Humanities Department to present “Rachmaninoff Was Here: The Golden Age of Beverly Hills Bohemianism,” in February of 2023. Council liaisons granted full support of the partnership, which included waiving fees totaling $13,500 for the one-night use of Greystone Mansion and use of city shield to promote the Rachmaninoff festival. The item will go before the City Council for final approval on Dec. 13.
The programming reimagines the 1940’s arts community in the city for audiences, taking place in public and private spaces in Beverly Hills, including homes, gardens, estates, and Rachmaninoff ‘s own house at 610 N. Elm Drive. The programming is happening in tandem with the arrival of pianist Yuja Wang, who will join Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil in performances of Rachmaninoff ‘s four piano concertos, as well as “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” this February.
Representatives from the LA Phil had initially planned for tickets to go on sale to Beverly Hills residents at the same time as members of the LA Phil, giving residents priority before going on sale to the public. However, with thousands of LA Phil members, Bosse requested that Beverly Hills residents be given advanced priority with a presale timeframe, before going on sale to members.
“Since what’s being proposed is a waiver of nearly $13,000, I think it would be very hard for me to not have that be a factor in terms of having really a presale code that we would promote to our residents before it opens to the public,” Mayor Bosse said.
LA Phil will publicly announce the Rachmaninoff events on Jan. 9, and tickets go on sale that day too. “Our events do tend to fill up quickly, so I think that we would look at doing a special marketing campaign in advance of that date for Beverly Hills residents, with a precode where they could go ahead and opt in,” Julia Ward Director, Humanities at LA Phil, said.
Rachmaninoff died in Beverly Hills on March 28, 1943 and spent the final two years of his life in the city. While his time in Beverly Hills was brief, it was significant. The LA Phil is also creating a special print collateral piece, which includes a map of the neighborhood for guests. “That is literally about what Rachmaninoff was doing in Beverly Hills, what homes he was at, what salons he was participating in,” Ward said.
The three events taking place in Beverly Hills all include a historical lecture or panel, a Rachmaninoff solo piano component, and a third based on the theme. The proposed program schedule begins on Feb. 2 at The Maybourne Beverly Hills with “The Beverly Hills Songbook,” a period-themed cocktail reception and performance that pays tribute to musical salons at the time.
The second event, “Beverly Hills Avant-Garde: From Surrealism to the Sunset Strip,” will be held on Feb. 11 at the Beverly Hills Women’s Club, and features a panel discussion, tasting, and concert. The evening will examine artistic innovation in the city and look at nightlife in and around Beverly Hills at that time. The third event, “Rachmaninoff’s Beverly Hills,” will be on Feb. 18 at Greystone Mansion. Branded as an afternoon soiree, the event includes a lecture, screening, piano performance, and a reception in the courtyard.