Black Dahlia: George Hodel and Rachmaninoff – A Meeting That Never Occurred


So here we have a passing mention of piano prodigy George Hodel, age 9, meeting Sergei Rachmaninoff “accompanied by the Russian minister of culture.”

I’m particularly interested in this line because Rachmaninoff (Kristof Konrad) shows up in “I Am the Night” while Man Ray (Exhibit B in the George “Evil Genius” Hodel franchise) doesn’t appear. Possibly the Man Ray Trust frowned on the depiction of him as a maniacal killer.

Previously on George Hodel, piano prodigy.

Los Angeles Times, Oct. 12, 1919 Fortunately for us, though less fortunate for Steve Hodel, the life of Rachmaninoff is well documented. In the early 20th century, Rachmaninoff was a musical sensation, so there are lots of stories about him.

We find that Rachmaninoff (b. 1873 d. 1943 in Beverly Hills) left Russia and visited America for the first time in October 1909. George Hodel was born in  October 1907, so let us assume that no matter how gifted George Hodel was, he wasn’t playing the piano at age 2.

Rachmaninoff’s next U.S. tour was in 1919, when George Hodel would have been 12, three years after his “triumph” at Shrine Auditorium.

A May 25, 1919, article in the Los Angeles Times said that Rachmaninoff would be spending the summer in Los Angeles.

But he didn’t.

Rachmaninoff performed July 22, 1919, in San Francisco, but on Oct. 12, 1919, Edwin Schallert said Rachmaninoff was going back East after staying in San Francisco. No visit to Los Angeles.

We find that Rachmaninoff did not give his first piano recital in Los Angeles until Feb. 2,1923, when George Hodel was 15. Of course by then, at least according to Steve Hodel, George had enrolled at Caltech to study chemical engineering, presumably abandoning his career as a concert pianist. On Feb. 27, 1929, Rachmaninoff gave a solo recital at Philharmonic Auditorium (RIP), but by that time, George Hodel would have been 19.

About the Russian minister of culture? The April 18, 1919, Los Angeles Herald noted: “Rachmaninoff is concertizing in this country at present, having escaped from Russia with much difficulty, through Finland and Sweden.” So I’m guessing that the Russian minister of culture accompanying Rachmaninoff is kind of a no.

If Steve Hodel has some proof supporting his tale of his father meeting Rachmaninoff, I would love to see it. Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, it’s all bogus.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1917, 1919, 1947, Another Good Story Ruined, Black Dahlia, Books and Authors, Music and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Black Dahlia: George Hodel and Rachmaninoff – A Meeting That Never Occurred

  1. William Desmond Taylor says:

    Yes, so many silly, failed people just make sh*t up and conflate the facts without even thinking these days. Sure, your parents might tell you some whoppers about your heritage because it makes you feel better and covers up the ugly family secrets, such as your mythical native American bloodline. But that is not your fault. Eventually you might find out Mom wasn’t telling the truth if you dig enough.

    But today is very, very different. Like the huge jump from oral cultural to printed culture, now we are a post-truth culture. However, we have had 50 years not 3,000 years, for us to figure it out. Today’s endless propaganda and lies, encouraged by out-of-control technology and greedy, stupid people out for themselves, come so fast at us we can’t possibly fight back. Our faculties of critical thinking and discrimination (in the positive sense smelling the rank untruths) has been bombarded with so many lies, has been eroded and completely corrupted by hurricanes of fourth rate lunatics.

    Don’t know how you do it, Steve!


  2. Pingback: I’m the night | les carnets de la télévision

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