But only thanks to man's technological achievements was I able to enjoy being transported to the heavens, almost literally.
Actually I guess it would be accurate to say that technology (airplanes, internet, computers, noise-cancelling headsets) made it more possible to enjoy some non-scientific wonders (the clouds and the Rachmaninoff Preludes).
In any case, I have been thinking about Rachmaninoff and whether it is more important to be original or to be good. I was reading a fine book about 20th century music (Machlis) which has many concise insights in to music over the last 100 years, but as far as I can tell makes no mention of Rachmaninoff. (There is mention of Scriabin, Richard Strauss, and Puccini, to name a few of his contemporaries). I admit that I was once, regrettably, not a fan of Rachmaninoff. But I think it is more than a mistake to think less of him for being less "adventurous" than Schoenberg or Ravel or Bartok (these four pieces were all written in 1911: Rachmaninoff op. 33; Schoenberg op. 19; Bartok Allegro barbaro; Ravel Valses Nobles et Sentimentales).
The fact that Rachmaninoff's music is not as innovative as, say, Scriabin's (the two were classmates at the Moscow Conservatory) seems less and less relevant as time goes by - it is like saying Bach was more old-fashioned than Handel or Scarlatti (the three were all born in 1685). So what? Bach plumbed the depths of the human soul and fashioned indestructibly profound music that is not exactly representative of his era - it's just great music. Rachmaninoff's music shows wonderfully fertile imagination, sincere passion, and inarguable control of counterpoint, structure, etc.
I can tell you when I started to appreciate Rachmaninoff, which I had formerly found to be too "over the top." I was dating a girl in college who, frankly, was not the best girlfriend. After one of our several break-ups (it took me a few to realize I should get the heck out of the relationship, permanently!) I was on the subway, very upset, and not caring about who knew it. That last part (not caring if anyone knew I was upset) was what gave me an insight in to and appreciation for the music of Rachmaninoff. Sometimes our emotions are, frankly, hard to disguise. Sometimes that's okay.