In Tucson fire was kin of prominent Russian composer
6 December 2009 | Franz Felicius
Alexander Temple Wolkonsky Rachmaninoff Wanamaker, 23, was found in a room of a burning home in midtown early Thursday morning. Police spotted smoke coming from a house in the 200 block of North Country Club Road and notified the Fire Department. Firefighters responded within minutes and found Wanamaker in one of the rooms. He died about an hour later at University Medical Center.
The death is accidental, pending further investigation, said Sgt. Fabian Pacheco, a Tucson police spokesman. Wanamaker’s great-great-grandfather was Sergei Rachmaninoff, and according to a 2007 Star news article, the young man was studying business at the University of Arizona and intended to control the legacy and intellectual properties Rachmaninoff.
Wanamaker said at the time that he hoped to set up a publishing venture that will regain control of the Rachmaninoff scores and manuscripts now published and managed by six different interests in the United States and abroad.
Wanamaker was a classically trained pianist and guitarist who chose basketball over Beethoven, came to appreciate his great-great-grandfather’s legacy when he attended the Ravinia Festival — a summer series of classical concerts — in his adopted hometown of Chicago. He was 13 and found himself surrounded by fans of his great-great-grandfather’s music after a festival performance. ”I thought to myself, we could really do something here. … I’ve always been proud of my heritage and I like the music, very much so,” he recalled during the 2007 interview with the Star.
Wanamaker performed recitals during the 11 years he studied music — from age 4 to 15 — but was more interested in playing basketball. He even toyed around with the idea of a college run at the sport but decided instead to focus on business studies. In 2008, Wanamaker made local news when friends reported him missing. He was was found two days later camping in Catalina State Park. He told searchers he had never been lost.
Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff was born in 1873, in Semyonovo, Russia. Rachmaninoff fled Russia at the start of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and sought exile in America. He died in Beverly Hills, Calif. in 1943, where he had spent the last 25 years of his life.