Speaking of Rachmaninov...
Now THIS is my kind of story. Old, but interesting.
A man named John Phillips started off his career as a playing musician, and then took a good paying sales job when he had kids. He also pursued and obtained a degree in philosophy. Fair enough.
One day, while driving down the road listening to Rachmaninov, he decided right then and there (curiously, while sober) to tackle what may the most difficult piece of piano music ever written - the dazzling, shimmering, thrilling and horrifyingly intricate Piano Concerto No. 3. Apparently, the 'Rach 3' (as it's nicknamed) has more notes per minute than any other piano piece in history.
In history. Behold it, if you dare. 136 pages of mind-melting Romantic-era genius.
And it's not just a flurry of runs up and down the ivory with a few schizophrenic passages thrown in for effect. Far from it. Rach 3 is a musical tour de force - an unforgettable aural journey to the farthest limits of the internal sound scape; a veritable post-doctorate examination of the full capacities of a piano; a lush, beautiful, dynamic, terrifying, soul-saving musical experience to behold. Only the most skilled pianists of the 20th century have been able to execute it properly. It separates the masters from the wanna-bes.
So anyway, Mr. Phillips, in an effort to take on this concerto to end all concertos and to establish a permanent life-affirming signpost, takes out a mortgage on his house and buys a Steinway grand (the piano of choice for Rachmaninov). Over the next 18 months, Phillips woke at 5 am each day to practice for two hours and squeezed every other available inkling of time in between job and family practicing and deciphering Rach 3. The culmination of this Herculean effort was a performance of the piece with the Trinity Orchestra.
And to be honest, I don't really know how it turned out. Judging from the continued appearances and concerts documented at his personal website, however, it appears that the Rach 3 adventure Phillips embarked on is paying some dividends.
Well played, sir.