Sergei Rachmaninoff at the Garden of Allah hotel

Sergei Rachmaninoff at the Garden of Allah hotelSergei Rachmaninoff was a prominent Russian composer, pianist, and conductor who immigrated to the States in the late 1910s. He lived at the Garden of Allah in the late 1920s and was Harpo Marx’s downstairs neighbor. They did not, however, get on very well so when Rachmaninoff made too much noise, Harpo retaliated by playing the first 64 bars of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #1 as loud as he could until it drove the composer from the Garden. It wasn’t until Rachmaninoff had moved out that Marx was told who he was!

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2 Responses to Sergei Rachmaninoff at the Garden of Allah hotel

  1. Pete Celano says:

    This isn’t quite the way Harpo recollects the encounter in his autobiography, “Harpo Speaks”. I’m wondering what the source is for this version of the story?

    Harpo recounts trying to get the pianist moved out and being told it wasn’t going to happen because it was Rachmaninoff. His retaliation was to open his doors and windows and play the first four bars of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C# minor over and over again, loud.

    Relevant quote from the book can be found here:

    • Thanks for this clarification. I think this version of the story came from Sheilah Graham in her book “The Garden of Allah” but I think we can trust Harpo’s autobiography a lot more!