Rachmaninoff: An X-Man Before The First Class
Sergei Rachmaninoff, who died on this day in 1943, was a Russian-born composer and absolutely incredible pianist. As a composer he's mostly known for his stunning concertos and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, but it was as a pianist that he was uncanny. Even Anton Rubinstein, who we have previous acknowledged as not only one of the greatest concert piano performers of all time but a sweet-ass pimp to boot - acknowledged Rachmaninoff as something special.
Library of Congress
"He had the secret of the golden, living tone which comes from the heart," said Rubinstein. "I was under the spell of his glorious and inimitable tone which could make me forget my uneasiness about his too rapidly fleeting fingers and his exaggerated rubatos."
The sentence to pay attention to in that worthy praise is "too rapidly fleeting fingers." See, Rachmaninoff wasn't simply a gifted musician, he was a freaking mutant!
His biography reads like a damn origin story anyway. He started out as a privileged and lazy, but full of potential, youth until the death of his mentor Tchaikovsky threw him into overdrive. The establishment damned him when the Russian Orthodox Church denounced his marriage - granted, he married his cousin - and he was forced to flee during the 1917 Russian Revolution with nothing but a few scores and the clothes on his back. Eventually, he immigrated to America. Already he's basically a combination Spider-Man and Magneto.
It doesn't stop there. While still in Russia, Rachmaninoff was prone to fits of depression and began undergoing an early form of hypnotic therapy called autosuggestion. As a trained hypnotherapist, Rocks Off can tell you that with a willing subject hypnosis can be used to boost all sorts of attributes. We've helped fighters perceive their opponents as moving more slowly, enabling them to easily counter moves, and helped runners maintain perfect rhythm in stride and breathing.
These same techniques are what made some famous mystery men into superheroes such as The Question and The Shadow. We're not saying that Rachmaninoff used any of these techniques to amplify his abilities, but we're not ruling it out.
The effects of autosuggestion may have been enhanced by Rachmaninoff's extraordinary memory. If he read a score once, especially if he liked it, he could play it back perfectly the next day, the next week, or decades later.
All of this pales besides the fact that his greatest physical gifts were a form of mutation.