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Tchaikovsky and His World

Tchaikovsky and His World

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 382
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    Tchaikovsky and His World
    Book Description:

    Tchaikovsky has long intrigued music-lovers as a figure who straddles many borders--between East and West, nationalism and cosmopolitanism, tradition and innovation, tenderness and bombast, masculine and feminine. In this book, through consideration of his music and biography, scholars from several disciplines explore the many sides of Tchaikovsky. The volume presents for the first time in English some of Tchaikovsky's own writings about music, as well as three influential articles, previously available only in German, from the 1993 Tübingen conference commemorating the centennial of Tchaikovsky's death.

    Tchaikovsky's distinguished biographer, Alexander Poznansky, reveals new findings from his most recent archival explorations in Kiln, Tchaikovsky's home. Poznansky makes accessible for the first time the full text of perviously censored letters, clarifying issues about the composer's life that until now have remained mere conjecture. Leon Botstein examines the world of realist art that was so influential in Tchaikovsky's day, while Janet Kennedy describes how interpretations of Tchaikovsky's balletSleeping Beautyact as a barometer of the aesthetic and even political climate of several generations. Natalia Minibayeva elucidates the First Orchestral Suite as a workshop for Tchaikovsky's composition of large-scale works, including symphony, opera, and ballet, while Susanne Dammann discusses the problematic Fourth Symphony as a work perfectly poised between East and West. Arkadii Klimovitsky considers Tchaikovsky's role as a link between Russia's Golden and Silver Ages. The extensive interaction between music and literature in this period forms the basis for Rosamund Bartlett's essay on creative parallels between Tchaikovsky and Chekhov. Richard Wortman describes the political climate at the end of Tchaikovsky's life, including Alexander III's mania for re-creating seventeenth-century Russian culture. Caryl Emerson, Kadja Grönke, and Leslie Kearney examine a number of issues raised by Tchaikovsky's operas. Marina Kostalevsky translates Nikolai Kashkin's 1899 review of Tchaikovsky's controversial operaOrleanskaia Deva (The Maid of Orleans).

    The book concludes with examples of theoretical writing by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, authors of Russia's first two systematic books on music theory. Lyle Neff translates and provides commentary on compositional issues that Tchaikovsky discusses in personal correspondence, as well as Rimsky-Korsakov's analysis of his own operaSnegurochka (The Snow Maiden).Tchaikovsky and His Worldwill change how we understand the life, works, and intellectual milieu of one of the most important and beloved composers of the nineteenth century.

    Originally published in 1998.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6488-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Permissions
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiii)
    Leslie Kearney

    • Tchaikovsky: A Life Reconsidered
      (pp. 3-54)

      Toward the end of his fairly short life Tchaikovsky’s inner and outer circumstances appeared perfectly splendid. After completing his triumphal tour of America and receiving an honorary doctorate at Cambridge University, he was accepted as a world figure, a national composer of universal significance. In 1891 a Carnegie Hall program proclaimed Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Saint-Saëns as the three greatest living composers, and music critics praised Tchaikovsky as “a modern music lord.”

      Within Russia he became even more than that—he was considered a national treasure, his music admired and adored by all strata of society. He enjoyed the favor of...

    • Unknown Tchaikovsky: A Reconstruction of Previously Censored Letters to His Brothers (1875–1879)
      (pp. 55-96)

      On August 13, 1880 Tchaikovsky wrote to his benefactress Nadezhda von Meek, that “the thought that some day I might indeed achieve a crumb of fame, and that interest in my music will generate interest in me personally is very burdensome. It is not that I fear the light of day. With my hand on my heart I can declare that my conscience is clear and that I have nothing to be ashamed of; but the notion that one day people will try to penetrate the intimate world of my feelings and thoughts, everything that all my life I have...


    • Music as the Language of Psychological Realism: Tchaikovsky and Russian Art
      (pp. 99-144)

      By the early 1890s Tchaikovsky’s preeminence as the leading Russian composer of his generation was nearly unquestioned, if not in his native Russia then certainly abroad. Anton Chekhov, in a letter from 1890 to the composer’s brother Modest, gave Tchaikovsky second place as Russia’s most significant artist after Tolstoy. Third place Chekhov assigned to the painter Ilia Repin.¹ Chekhov’s triumvirate linked Repin with Tchaikovsky. Perhaps Chekhov was inspired merely by the great fame of the painter, who was better known abroad than any other Russian painter. As an artist, Repin would have been considered more allied to Musorgsky (whose portrait...

    • Line of Succession: Three Productions of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty
      (pp. 145-162)

      In November 1921, when Sergei Diaghilev opened his spectacular London production ofSleeping Beauty,the souvenir program contained Léon Bakst’s account—possibly fictional—of a face-to-face meeting with Tchaikovsky at the dress rehearsal for the ballet’s St. Petersburg premiere in 1890. Overwhelmed by Tchaikovsky’s presence, Bakst tells us, he managed to utter only a few inarticulate words: “I find the music ofLa Belle au bois dormantexcellent.” Three decades later he redeemed this youthful awkwardness with a fervid description of that long-ago occasion: “Unforgettable matinée! For three hours I lived in a magic dream, intoxicated by fairies and princesses,...

    • Per Aspera Ad Astra: Symphonic Tradition in Tchaikovsky’s First Suite for Orchestra
      (pp. 163-196)

      Tchaikovsky’s First Suite for Orchestra (Op. 43), one of the composer’s lesser-known works, has not been comprehensively discussed in musicological literature. Though originally well-received in many European countries, in the twentieth century the work became an object of attack. Ralph Wood proclaimed that “the music is simply not worth detailed study; with the exception of the variations from No. 3 the suites are pretty thoroughly out of the repertoire now.”¹ David Brown considered the Suite “rather second-rate, despite some undeniable charm.”² Several Russian scholars, on the other hand, argued in the work’s favor. Daniel Zhitomirsky believed that Tchaikovsky’s four orchestral...

    • An Examination of Problem History in Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony
      (pp. 197-215)

      Despite the popularity and affectionate regard enjoyed by many of P. I. Tchaikovsky’s works, the fact that this composer has for many years been largely excluded from serious musicological research in the German language can scarcely be ignored. The reason for this can hardly be sought in the fact that the works most commonly performed today were composed relatively late, which means their reception and effective history first began in the mid 1890s. After all, the First Piano Concerto in Bb minor, Opus 23, and the Violin Concerto in D Major, Opus 35, were both readily absorbed into the standard...

    • Tchaikovsky’s Tatiana
      (pp. 216-219)

      Tchaikovsky’sEugene Oneginhas often been accused of betraying its literary source—yet the charge is baffling. Operatic transposition always demands adjustments. Alexander Pushkin’s novel-in-verse, written in the 1820s and immediately recognized as a masterpiece, is hardly put in peril by the existence of a libretto illustrating its most “lyrical scenes.” Tchaikovsky scrupulously preserved the poet’s lines in all episodes of high emotional intensity. And unlikeThe Queen of Spades,the composer’s second adaptation from Pushkin, the operaticOneginremains very much Pushkin’s story, the most famous Russian version of a familiar erotic plot: uncoordinated, unconsummated, yet ultimately symmetrical love....

    • On the Role of Gremin: Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin
      (pp. 220-233)

      Everyone knows Prince Gremin’s great aria from Tchaikovsky’s operaEugene OneginIt seems to outline and characterize the role completely, but that impression is deceptive It is worthwhile to investigate the fundamental significance Tchaikovsky assigned, both dramatically and compositionally, to the role of Gremin

      The operaEugene Oneginhas as its source the verse novel of the same name by Alexander Pushkin In it, the character whom Tchaikovsky calls Gremin in his libretto remains inextricably bound to the main female character, Tatiana

      She sees him for the first time at a ball in Moscow which Pushkin ridicules as the “marriage...

    • Review of The Maid of Orleans [1899]
      (pp. 234-238)

      Tchaikovsky began his fifth opera,The Maid of Orleans,late in 1878, completing it early the following year. The libretto is self-composed, drawn chiefly from material found in Friedrich Schiller’s playDie Jungfrau von Orleans(1801), which Zhukovsky had translated into Russian on the recommendation of Turgenev, who had seen the play in Leipzig in 1802. Tchaikovsky also consulted Auguste Mermet’s opera,Jeanne d’Arc(1876), Jules Barbier’s play by the same name (1869, 1874), and historical studies by Jules Michelet and Henri Wallon.¹ The opera premiered in Petersburg on 13 February 1881 at the Mariinsky Theater, Eduard Nápravník conducting. On...

    • Tchaikovsky Androgyne: The Maid of Orleans
      (pp. 239-276)

      Understanding Tchaikovsky’s artistic creations as reflections of his personal life is nothing new. In fact one can safely assert he has come in for far more than his fair share of this type of exegesis. His operaThe Maid of Orleansseems to cry out for interpretation as a psychological autopsy.¹ In both the timing of the opera’s creation (in the thick of a disastrous marital breakdown) and its content (a person of both male and female characteristics ostracized by society after falling in love with a man, although the precise cause-and-effect remains obscure) suggest unavoidable links to Tchaikovsky’s life....

    • The Coronation of Alexander III
      (pp. 277-299)

      A Russian coronation not only consecrated the Russian emperor, but also made known the image he intended to embody as monarch, setting forth what might be described as a symbolic program for his reign.¹ The coronation of Emperor Alexander III and Empress Maria Fedorovna in May 1883 was an elaborate display of the monarch’s national character and the popular and religious sources of his power. It provided reaffirmation of the staying power of absolute monarchy, after the autocracy had been challenged by the rise of a revolutionary movement. The era of reforms, which had emancipated the serfs, and initiated major...

    • Tchaikovsky, Chekhov, and the Russian Elegy
      (pp. 300-318)

      This article is not the first to address the subject of Tchaikovsky’s relationship with Anton Chekhov The mutual admiration felt by the composer and the writer has been often commented on, and has even generated a slender bibliography of critical literature exploring its ramifications In 1962 Evgenii Balabanovich published the monographChekhov and Tchaikovsky,whose revised third edition appeared in 1978,² and this study had been preceded by articles and studies by other Soviet critics such as I A Kremlev and L P Gromov³ Tchaikovsky’s British biographer David Brown produced the first English-language article on Tchaikovsky and Chekhov in 1985,...

    • Tchaikovsky and the Russian “Silver Age”
      (pp. 319-330)

      Three years ago the world celebrated Tchaikovsky’s 150th birthday, and today’s anniversary has very quickly “caught up” to that one. The temporal proximity of these two so dissimilar memorials seems to embody the dramatic character of Tchaikovsky’s fate, both as a man and as a composer. Even more: the closeness of the “round” remembrances, which can be quite shocking in its sinister uncanniness, reveals the unfortunate inseparability of life and death, to which Tchaikovsky and his art had a tormented relationship and which transformed itself into an ambiguous metaphor for his life and the historical destiny of his artistic heritage....


    • A Documentary Glance at Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov as Music Theorists
      (pp. 333-354)
      LYLE K. NEFF

      With all of Tchaikovsky’s popularity in the concert hall and the sensational aspects of his biography, it can easily escape the average enthusiast’s notice or memory that during the decade or so whenRomeo and Juliet,the first four symphonies, the three string quartets, the first piano concerto, the violin concerto,Eugene Onegm,andSwan Lakewere composed, Tchaikovsky worked as a teacher of music theory, first starting in early 1866 in the classes given by the Moscow branch of the Russian Music Society and later that year on the staff of the new Moscow Conservatory. The subjects he taught...

  9. Index
    (pp. 355-366)
  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 367-369)