Ayn Rand recognized the important role music played in Western culture: “To the Western man, music is an intensely personal experience and a confirmation of his cognitive power.” The Russian composer, pianist, and conductor Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was Ayn Rand’s favorite composer. Rand paid homage to Rachmaninoff at the beginning of Part Four of The Fountainhead. In a brief, inspirational episode, she wrote about a young man riding a bicycle in rural Pennsylvania and contemplating a future as a composer. Rand must have felt affection for the young man. She gave him both her personal experience of music and her aesthetic judgment: “He had always wanted to write music, and he could give no other identity to the thing he sought. If you want to know what it is he told himself, listen to the first phrases of Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto – or the last movement of Rachmaninoff’s Second.” After a chance meeting with the hero of The Fountainhead, Howard Roark, who was building the Monadnock Valley summer resort, the young man rode away with “the courage to face a lifetime,” as a composer. Rachmaninoff’s inspirational Piano Concerto No. 2 premiered on November 9, 1901 in Moscow, Russia.
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