Friday, March 30, 2018

Tchaikovsky Waltzes

No. 275 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages, which can be found in our archives at


This week, I postponed my usual early-morning post of our Friday Blog and Podcast, as I didn’t feel irt was right for me to provide light music on Good Friday. I view this more as an Easter share.

When one thinks of the waltz, two names spring to mind: the Viennese Waltz King (Johann Strauss) and Poland’s greatest composer (Frederic Chopin). However, as today’s podcast suggests, we shouldn’t overlook Russia’s Peter Tchaikovsky. Today’s playlist gathers several waltz movements and stand-alone waltzes from Tchaikovsky’s symphonic, stage and piano catalogues.

When one thinks of a Symohony, it is generally expected that one movement will be dance-themed. In the classical symphony, that form is that of the minuet, in the early Romantic, the minuet is replaced by the scherzo which can be thought of as a caricature of the minuet. It isn’t uncommon for late Romantics to explore different dance motifs – think of Mahler and the rustic Ländler. In Tchaikovsky’s Fifth symphony, he inserts a waltz between his unformgettably lyrical adagio movement and the procession-like finale. The waltz, in the requisite ¾ time, follows the deliberate leitmotiv-like principal line of the symphony. Another example (which I left out of the montage) is the 5/4 time near-waltz of the Pathetique symphony.

More “symphonic waltzes” I have retained include that from the serenade for strings, two waltz movements from his symphonic suites and the valse-scherzo for violin and orchestra
Three of Tchaikovsky’s most well-known waltzes come from his three ballets. A fourtyh “stage waltz” is  from the opening ballroom scene of his opera Eugnene Onegin.

The last works on the montage come from Tchaikovsky’s (under-appreciated) piano catalog, including one that was deftly adapted by Canadian conductor and trombonist Alain Trudel for his own use (accompanied at the piano by another Canadian conductor who we rarely hear as a pianist…)

I think you will love this music too.