There was a time when I thought Rachmaninoff was an extra long, brown, and very thin European cigarette purchased by the carton from the Duty-Free shop at Schipol airport.
Later, I discovered Rachmaninoff was actually tinny music emanating from an ancient portable radio-cassette machine in the local Russian Tea Room; a plinkety-plonk piano mocking me as I tried to figure out what to do with the dollop of jam I'd been served with my samovar.
On Friday evenings, there were Tea Room Concerts: a square-shouldered, square-foreheaded bald man with a nose like an eagle's beak slaved away at a Bontempi keyboard. He never looked happy. Vocalise arranged for synthesised organ sound and samba drum rhythm was a particular favorite of the blue-rinsed hair crowd. It was their Brown Eyed Girl
"Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto number 3 in D-minor, opus thirty," said the man on the radio. "Daniel Batonwaver conducting the Chintz Youth Orchestra featuring soloist Anastasia Hamfisterova."
It was very quiet in the onion-domed church. You could hear my paperback copy of Pnin drop. "Sorry about that," I said to the man in the next pew. "They told me I'd be here all night so I brought along something to read. I must have dozed off."
"That's highly unorthodox," he replied.