Sunday, September 16, 2018

Project 366 - No more Romantiki than Tchaikovsky

Project 366 continues in 2017-18 with "Time capsules through the Musical Eras - A Continued journey through the Western Classical Music Repertoire". Read more here.

As we have done for past major periods, we are devoting one chapter to a key Romantic-era composer.

By the end of his fairly short life, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's inner and outer circumstances would appear to have been perfectly splendid. After his triumphant tour of America, and being awarded an honorary doctorate at Cambridge University, he was accepted as a world figure, not a merely national composer but one of universal significance. In 1891 the Carnegie Hall program booklet proclaimed him, together with Brahms and Saint-Saëns, to be one of the three greatest living musicians, while music critics praised him as "a modern music lord".

Within Russia he became even more than that—he was considered a national treasure, and his music admired and adored by all strata of society. He enjoyed the favour of the Imperial court, where he had a number of influential protectors (including two Grand Dukes), as well as the personal patronage of Emperor Alexander III, who had granted him a handsome government pension.

In my humble opinion, the Tchaikovsky Research website launched in February 2006 is an internet treasure trove of information on Tchaikovskly’s life and times.

In terms of his complete works catalog, the website provides comprehensive lists of works, with opus number and other similar nomenclature stemming either from volume 1 of The Tchaikovsky Handbook (Indiana University Press, 2002) (TH) and in the Thematic and Bibliographical Catalogue of P. I. Čajkovskij's Works (2006) (ČW).

In general, in many of the playlists I have used ion my many musings and shares, I have deferred to the opus number, and cross-references it to the TH number which is essentially “thematic” rather than chronological.

The following listener guides generally highlight a specific a Tchaikovsky work (identified in the guide’s title), and is often accompanied by filler material by Tchaikovsky, and sometimes by other composers.

 Listener Guide # 217 - The Seasons
Tchaikovsky's piano cycle subtitled '12 characteristic scenes', was written between December 1875 and May 1876, and was first published in monthly instalments in the Saint Petersburg journal Nuvellist . (Once Upon the Internet 42 - 5 Jan 2016)

Listener Guide #218 - Symphony No. 1
Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1 in G minor, subtitled Winter Daydreams, was composed and orchestrated between March 1866 and February 1868, and revised in spring 1874. (ITYWLTMT Podcast #154 - 2 May 2014)

Listener Guide #219 - Symphony No. 3
Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 3 in D major, was composed and orchestrated between June and August 1875. It is his only symphony in a major key, and to have five movements. The Symphony is sometimes referred to as the 'Polish', after the 'Tempo di polacca' marking of the Finale. (Cover 2 Cover # 10 – 3  July 2018)

Listener Guide #220 - Manfred
Tchaikovsky's Manfred is a symphony in four scenes, composed and orchestrated between May and September 1885. The idea for a symphony on the subject of Lord George Byron's poem Manfred: A Dramatic Poem (1817) originated from Vladimir Stasov, who suggested the idea to Mily Balakirev and Hector Berlioz in 1867, although both composers declined to write the music. (Cover 2 Cover #11 – 7 Aug 2018)

Listener Guide #221 – Tchaikovsky Waltzes
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 this listener guide suggests, we shouldn’t overlook Russia’s Peter Tchaikovsky. Here we have gathered several waltz movements and stand-alone waltzes from Tchaikovsky’s symphonic, stage and piano catalogues. (ITYWLTMT Montage #275 - 30 Mar 2018)

Listener Guide #222 & 223 – Tchaikovsky Tone Poems
This pair of listener guides provides a sampling of seven tone poems/orchestral fantasies composed throughout Tchaikovsky’s career. The listener guides group the thematically.

L/G 222 showcases works abandoned by Tchaikovsky (Cover 2 Cover #1 – 14 Feb 2017)

L/G 223 provides works inspired by Shakespeare plays (Cover 2 Cover #6 – 9 January 2018)

Listener Guide #224 –Suite #1
Tchaikovsky was notorious for creating ambitious orchestral works, originally meant as symphonies, only to later choose the less rigorous format of a suite – harkening back to those of J. S. Bach, as a loose grouping of dance movements and orchestral sketches. This Suite No. 1 in D minor, was written and orchestrated between August 1878 and April 1879, except for the second movement (Divertimento), which was added in August 1879. (ITYWLTMT Montage #280 - 29 May 2018)

Listener Guide #225 –Piano Concerto #1
On 19 April 1941 Horowitz played this concerto with Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra at an all-Tchaikovsky concert at Carnegie Hall, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the dedication of the famous auditorium. (Once Upon the Internet #60 – 13 Feb 2018)

Listener Guide #226 –Piano Concertos #2 and 3
According to Modest Tchaikovsky, it was his brother's original intention to dedicate the First concerto to the "colossal virtuoso force" of Nikolay Rubinstein, but the composer's feelings were wounded so deeply by Rubinstein's criticism of the work, he subsequently changed his mind. In 1880 Tchaikovsky decided to dedicate his Second Piano Concerto to Rubinstein, for his "magnificent" playing of the First Concerto. Rubinstein was to have premiered the concerto in Moscow, but died shortly before the scheduled performance. Sketches from the aborted Symphony in E flat major became the Piano Concerto No. 3, and the Scherzo-Fantaisie (No. 10 of the Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72). (ITYWLTMT Podcast # 135 - 13 Dec 2013)

Listener Guide #227 – The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is a fairy ballet in 2 acts and 3 scenes, written and orchestrated by Tchaikovsky between February 1891 and April 1892. The story was based on a children's fairy tale by E. T. A. Hoffmann, adapted by Alexandre Dumas. This was Tchaikovsky's last ballet, from which he compiled a famous Suite of eight numbers for concert performance. (ITYWLTMT Podcast # 136 - 20 Dec 2013)

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