Tchaikovsky The Man And His Music Essay

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Tchaikovsky: The Man And His Music Essay, Research Paper ATchaikovsky=s music is not only one of the cornerstones of Russian musical society and world music . . . It is at the same time a creative and technical encyclopedia to which every Russian composer has reference in the course of his own work,@ commented Dimitri Shostakovich.1 This was a typical view held by Tchaikovsky=s contemporaries. He was well known and well respected, especially in his later years. In addition, Tchaikovsky was recognized as the most expressive Romantic composer in Russia.2 He was often idolized and put on a pedestal, particularly during his tour of the United States in 1891 when he conducted concerts of his own works in some of the leading concert halls. Tchaikovsky brought national attention to

the Russian musical culture and composers. From this period forward Russian music was well received. Tchaikovsky did indeed make a great impact in Russia and around the world. Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, born in Votkinsk, Russia on May 7, 1840, was part of a family with comfortable financial circumstances. His father was a mining engineer and he was strongly attached to his mother. He first entered into the musical world at the age of five when he was given his first instruction on the piano. In spite of these lessons and Tchaikovsky=s love for music it never occurred to his parents to devote his life to music. Instead, at the age of ten, his family moved to St. Petersburg where they enrolled him in the School of Jurisprudence. Nine years later, in 1859, he passed into the Ministry

of Justice as a clerk. He still loved music although it did not prove to be a major part of his life during this period. He was a member of the school choir and took piano lessons, but none of his instructors suspected a budding genius.3 A great tragedy that would prove to have a major impact on his life occurred while he was in St. Petersburg. When he was fourteen years old, a major cholera epidemic was raging through Russia, a quite common occurrence during his lifetime. His mother contracted the disease and subsequently died. Tchaikovsky was completely shattered by her death. AIt is likely that the emotional imbalance that characterized Tchaikovsky=s throughout his life dates from this tragedy.@4 He remained a clerk for three years. He hated his job but he worked feverishly at

it for he worked hard at every task he was given. He continued to be drawn into the music world and he took piano and theory lessons. Finally, in 1862, he quit his job and devoted the rest of his life to music which he began by entering the St. Petersburg Conservatory. He graduated with a silver medal in 1865. After graduation he was unsure of what to do until 1866 when Nicholas Rubenstein offered him the job of professor of harmony at the newly formed Moscow Conservatory. It was here that he wrote his first serious works which included AA Festival Overture on the Danish National Hymn,@ his First Symphony in G AWinter Daydreams,@ and his first opera AThe Voyevode.@ Showing his desire for perfection he tore up the opera because he was dissatisfied with it and it wasn=t until 1949

that it was revived.5 Tchaikovsky=s first masterpiece was composed from 1869-1870. It was a symphonic fantasy based on Shakespeare=s Romeo and Juliet. ARomeo and Juliet@ was the first of Tchaikovsky=s works in which his superbly unique style is finally formed.6 ARomeo and Juliet@ shows Tchaikovsky=s ability to portray a particular mood or emotion through his music. It is thought that this ability was stimulated by his only love affair with the well known soprano Desiree Artot. One day she was in Warsaw and she met a baritone there. He proposed to her and she accepted without every giving another thought to Tchaikovsky. What makes this curious is the fact that this composer, who was generally regarded as sensitive and hot tempered, was able to forget her quite easily and continue