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Francis Crociata with Sophie Satin in the 1970s

Francis Crociata

For four decades, Francis Crociata has written and lectured extensively on the Russian-American pianist-composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943). His essays on Rachmaninoff have appeared in a host of recording annotations, music periodicals, The New York Times, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and, most prominently, in the booklet which accompanied "The Complete Rachmaninoff," the five-volume edition of the composer's recorded legacy issued by RCA Records to coincide with the Rachmaninoff Centennial in 1973.

A co-producer of the original project, his main contribution was the principal essay entitled "Sergei Rachmaninoff: Portrait of a Great and Modest Master" which remains in print, having been reissued when the entire collection reappeared in compact disc format in 1993. Crociata has pursued extensive research into Rachmaninoff's life, compositions and, in particular, his career as a public performer in the United States following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and subsequent exile. Central to Crociata's preparation of a Rachmaninoff biography is the series of seven interviews with Sophie Satin conducted from 1972 until two months before her death in 1975. Presently, Crociata is working with friend and collaborator Gregor Benko, founder of the International Piano Archives, on a book which explores the relationship between Rachmaninoff and his friend and rival pianist Josef Hofmann as revealed in their complete surviving correspondence.

Vladimir Tropp

Vladimir Tropp

Vladimir Tropp, distinguished guest pianist for the Rachmaninoff celebration, is well known to the Smith audience thanks to two earlier visits to the college in 1988 and 1993. One of Russia's leading pedagogues, he serves in Moscow as professor and chair of the piano department of the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music and professor at the Moscow Conservatory. A student of celebrated teachers, he became in 1970 a laureate of the International Enesco Piano Competition in Bucharest. Since then he has performed and offered master classes in Russia and many other countries in Europe, East Asia and the Americas. He has been acclaimed for performances of works by Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Medtner.

Tropp has made numerous recordings on radio, LPs and CDs. One of his series of three CDs entitled "Russian Miniatures" merited in 1998 the prestigious "Record Academy" award as best of the year. He has published work dedicated to Russian and foreign performing art, as well as articles and commentary on the recordings of outstanding performers. Most prominent among Professor Tropp's activities has been the investigation of Sergei Rachmaninoff's creative work. He has examined all extant archives of the composer in the United States, Russia, Switzerland and Costa Rica. At Smith College he worked with the papers of Sophie Satin in the College Archives. His connections to both Rachmaninoff and Smith College are joined in his gift to the college of a bronze bust of Rachmaninoff that will be dedicated before his concert on November 7, 2009.

Professor Tropp serves as vice-president of the Rachmaninoff Society in Russia. He actively participates in music festivals abroad and regularly serves on juries of international and national piano competitions, including the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition in Moscow.

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