Pyotr ilich Tchaikovsky Biography & Music Piano Concert #1
Pyotr ilich Tchaikovsky (1840- 1893) Tchaikovsky was a russian composer of the Romantic era. He wrote music across a range of genres, including symphony, opera, ballet, instrumental, chamber and song. He wrote some of the most popular concert and theatrical music in the current classical repertoire, including the ballets Swan Lake , The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker , as well as the 1812 Overture , his First Piano Concerto , his last three numbered symphonies, and the opera Eugene Onegin. By the end of his fairly short life of 53 years, Tchaikovsky was one of the most recognized classical composers. 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 favor 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 government pension. His works include 7 symphonies, 11 operas, 3 ballets, 5 suites, 3 piano concertos, a violin concerto, 11 overtures (strictly speaking, 3 overtures and 8 single movement programmatic orchestral works), 4 cantatas, 20 choral works, 3 string quartets, a string sextet, and more than 100 songs and piano pieces.
Biography Pyotr ilich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840 at Votkinsk, in Viatka Province, located in the Ural mountains 600 miles east of Moscow. He was the second son of ilia Petrovich Tchaikovsky and Aleksandra Andreevna. His father was a graduated mining engineer from the College of Mines in Saint Petersburg with a silver medal. He also held several teaching and administrative posts, some of the latter in the northeast of Russia. Tchaikovsky's mother Aleksandra (1812–1854) was the younger daughter of Michael Heinrich Maximilian Acier (1778–1835), who was born in Germany and at the age of 17 was brought from Saxony to Russia by artillery general Petr Mellisino to teach German and French at the Military school in Saint Petersburg. Apart from his stepsister Zinaida (1829) and elder brother Nikolai (1838), after Pyotr birth in 1840 the Tchaikovsky’s had a daughter, Aleksandra (1841), and three more sons: Ippolit (1843), and the fraternal twins Anatolii and Modest (1850). March Slave
Early Years Tchaikovsky's earliest musical impressions came from the family's orchestrina , with its excerpts from Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti. In September 1844, he made his first documented attempt at composition "Our Mama in Petersburg", a song written together with Aleksandra (who was then only three). At the end of 1845 he began taking piano lessons with Mariia Palchikova and became familiar with the mazurkas of Chopin. In 1848 his family moved first to Moscow and later to Saint Petersburg, where Tchaikovsky was placed in the private Schmelling School , where he resumed piano lessons. But in May 1849 the family had to return to the Urals where his father was appointed manager of an ironworks in the city of Alapaevsk, some 300 miles to the east of Votkinsk.
The orchestrina or clavecin harmonique is a small keyboard instrument invented by the English builder of harmoniums and organs, Cheltenham-born W.E. Evans (1810–1884). He patented it on 29 October 1862. The orchestrina which resembled a harmonium, had stops that allowed it to imitate such instruments as flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn, and was intended to stand in for them in small orchestras lacking the relevant musicians.
This did not prevent the composer's mother from returning with him to Saint Petersburg the following autumn so that Pyotr was enrolled in the preparatory class of the Imperial School of Jurisprudence . On this occasion Pyotr saw Mikhail Glinka's “ A Life for the Tsar ” at the Alexandrinskii Theater, which made a lasting impression on him. By this time Pyotr had successfully passed his entrance exam for the School of Jurisprudence, where he participated in the school choir under the direction of distinguished Russian choirmaster Gavriil Lomakin. When Tchaikovsky was 14 years old his mother died from cholera on June 1854 a very traumatic event for the composer. Hungarian Dance
His years in the school of Jurisprudence Tchaikovsky spent nine years (1850–1859) as a boarding student at the School of Jurisprudence. During this time Tchaikovsky also made his first attempts at composition, among which were an opera Hyperbola (lost), a waltz for piano, and his first published work, the song Mezza notte . A month after his graduation on May 1859, Tchaikovsky began working as a clerk in the Ministry of Justice. Although he remained there for four years, he quickly found the job ill-suited to his talents. In the autumn his life took an unexpected turn: Tchaikovsky started to attend Nikolai Zaremba's class in harmony offered by the Russian Musical Society , which had recently been founded by the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna and Anton Rubinstein, with the purpose of promoting professional music education in Russia.
His years at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory When the Saint Petersburg Conservatory was opened on September 1862, Tchaikovsky was among its first students. There Tchaikovsky studied harmony and form with Nikolai Zaremba, and orchestration and composition with Anton Rubinstein. Having decided to devote his life to music, Tchaikovsky resigned from the Ministry of Justice on April 1863. Tchaikovsky spent almost three years of his life at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. In addition to his studies of harmony, strict counterpoint, composition and instrumentation, he also decided to study the flute and organ. The Conservatory's graduation concert on 10 January 1866 included a performance of Tchaikovsky's ambitious cantata Ode to Joy , on the text of Schiller's ode An die Freude (upon which Beethoven did the Finale of his Ninth Symphony). Waltz – Eugen Onegin
To Tchaikovsky’s surprise, he also received the silver medal (since the gold medal was not awarded at that time) which happened to be the highest student award offered to students. Tchaikovsky moves to Moscow When He was 25 years old Tchaikovsky moved to Moscow on January 1866, where Nikolai Rubinstein welcomed him, providing him not only with accommodation in rooms in his own apartment, but also introducing him to his circle of friends, which included writers, musicians, and publishers. At the end of November, his Symphony No. 1, entitled "Winter Daydreams" , Op. 13, was complete and was heard for the first time in February 1868 with Nikolai Rubinstein conducting. In the autumn of 1869 Tchaikovsky met in Moscow with Balakirev, who encouraged the composer to begin a new tone-poem based on Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet , that was heard for the first time at a concert in Moscow on 16 March 1870, conducted by Nikolai Rubinstein.
Composing his master works While staying at Kamenka during the summer of 1872, he began to work on his Symphony No. 2, later dubbed the "Little Russian." The new symphony was presented and received enthusiastically in February 1873. In November 1874 Tchaikovsky began working on his First Piano Concerto, a complete draft of which he had completed by January 5 1875. He decided to dedicate it to the famous German pianist Hans von Bülow, who gave the first successful performance of the concert in Boston on October 25, 1875. Tchaikovsky spent the summer of 1875 with his sister's family at Kamenka. Here Tchaikovsky composed his Third Symphony, this time in five movements, two of them in dance style. In August, Tchaikovsky began work on what was to become the first of his famed trilogy of ballets. The Swan Lake which was commissioned by the Imperial Theatres in Moscow. The premiere of this ballet took place on March 4, 1877. Waltz – Swan Lake
Nadezhda Von Meck, patroness and confidante At the end of 1876, Tchaikovsky met Nadezhda Von Meck, the widow of a wealthy railway magnate . She had heard and admired some of Tchaikovsky's music, and when she found out that he was encountering financial problems, she began to commission pieces from him. This money allowed him to dedicate full time to his creative work. Both agreed on the one condition, that they should never meet. Their strange relationship, expressed through over 1200 letters, was to last for almost fourteen years. Tchaikovsky’s relationship with Nadezhda von Meck, despite their obvious eccentricities, occasional frustrations and their gradual deterioration, can be considered to have been among the most gratifying experiences of the composer’s life.
By January 1878 Tchaikovsky had finished his Fourth Symphony, the first of his mature symphonic works, which he dedicated (secretly) to Nadezhda Von Meck. The other major work which occupied him during this period was Evgenii Onegin . At first the opera made a modest impression on the audience, and it took several years to achieve the public acclaim it deserved. One other masterpiece also emerged from this period was the Violin Concerto, written in Switzerland. In the autumn of 1879, he began a Second Piano Concerto. Later he travelled to Rome, where he composed the Italian Capriccio . Tchaikovsky then returned to his homeland, where he spent much of 1880 in the country. There he completed the Serenade for String Orchestra, and the piece most often associated with his name, the Overture 1812 , a commemoration of the historic Russian defeat of Napoleon's army. Italian Capriccio
In February 1884 He had hardly spent three weeks in the French capital before he was summoned back to Russia to appear before Alexander III and He received an official decoration, the Order of Saint Vladimir (4th class). By the end of November 1888 Tchaikovsky travelled to Prague, where he conducted a successful performance of Evgenii Onegin . In December he retired to Frolovskoe for six weeks in order to compose a ballet, The Sleeping Beauty , based on a French fairy tale and commissioned by the directors of the Saint Petersburg Theaters and in the summer of 1889 He finished the main works of this ballet. The first performance of The Sleeping Beauty took place on 15 January 1890 in a splendid production, choreographed by Marius Petipa. The day before Alexander III had expressed his approval of the ballet at a gala rehearsal attended by the imperial court.
On January 1890 Tchaikovsky went to Florence, where he began work on another opera, The Queen of Spades , Op. 68 and on December of that year he attended a very successful production of this opera in Kiev. In September 1890 he received a letter from his patroness Nadezhda Von Meck, informing him that she was on the brink of ruin , and therefore unable to continue either his allowance or their correspondence. The suddenness of these news wounded him deeply, and left he depressed for some time. His satisfaction with The Queen of Spades led Tchaikovsky to accept two more commissions from the Imperial Theatres for an opera “ Iolanta” and a ballet “ The Nutcracker ”. In the meantime, however, Tchaikovsky accepted an invitation to conduct his own works in America on the occasion of the grand opening of Carnegie Hall in New York . Tchaikovsky sailed from Le Havre on 18 April 1891 and landed in New York eight days later. Waltz – Sleeping Beauty
He spent one month in America and then he sailed back to Hamburg , feeling fully gratified with his tour. Back home, Tchaikovsky returned to the composition of the ballet The Nutcracker , based on Hoffman's fantasy story but in the adaptation by Alexandre Dumas. This he finished in early July, whereupon he immediately commenced work on the one-act opera Iolanta , the story of a blind princess, set in medieval Aix-de-Provence. At the beginning of March 1892 Tchaikovsky travelled to Saint Petersburg where he conducted the first performance of the suite from The Nutcracker , which was received with immense enthusiasm. On December 18, both the Iolanta Opera and the Nutcracker Ballet were given splendid productions at the Mariinskii Theatre, in the presence of Alexander III and the imperial court.
1893 the last year in the life of Tchaikovsky Tchaikovsky started work on his Symphony No. 6 in B minor . He worked so vigorously, that in the week after his arrival, the first movement of the symphony was already complete, and the rest was clearly outlined in his head. On March 23, Tchaikovsky arrived in Kharkov for a scheduled concert appearance three days later, at which Tchaikovsky conducted his Second Symphony “ The Tempest ” and the overture 1812 . His performance surpassed all expectations: the hurrahs and bravos seemed to continue on without end and as soon as famous man appeared in the doorway he was lifted up and carried to his coach. In April Tchaikovsky began to compose the Eighteen Pieces Op. 72 for piano, commissioned by Jurgenson, and Six Romances Op. 73, to the text of the poet Daniil Ratgauz. Overture 1812
On May 25, the composer set off for England to formally receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Music honoris causa from Cambridge University, which had been conferred upon him earlier. In early September, Tchaikovsky finally came up with the title of his new symphony "Apassionata". The passionate overtones of the Russian title are not adequately conveyed in its better-known French equivalent "Symphonie pathétique", with its connotations of suffering and sorrow. In September he worked on his Third Piano Concerto, and started to consider the possibility of writing a new opera. On the night of November 1st, after returning from a late dinner at Leiner’s restaurant, the one most frequented by the composer and his brother, Tchaikovsky experienced an upset stomach .
By the morning it had worsened, his brother Modest brought the renowned Petersburg physician Lev Bertenson, who immediately diagnosed Asiatic cholera , in its severe or algid stage. By the morning of November 3, Tchaikovsky’s condition had greatly improved, but Doctor Lev Bertenson had to leave Saint Petersburg and he was replaced by two other doctors, Aleksandr Zander and Nikolai Mamonov. On November 5th, his condition became so critical , the kidneys had by then ceased their function and throughout the day Tchaikovsky repeatedly lost consciousness and succumbed to delirium; towards the evening his pulse began to weaken and his breathing became inhibited.
The composer passed away 15 minutes after three o’clock on the morning of November 6, 1893. Present during his final moments were his brothers Modest and Nikolai his nephew Vladimir Davydov. Alexander III had already indicated that the funeral was to take place in St. Petersburg, with all the burial expenses being covered by the Emperor. On November 9th, after a funeral service at the Kazan Cathedral and a grand public procession down Nevskii Prospect, with the participation of dozens of delegations from various cities, organizations and institutions. The composer’s body was buried at the Tikhvin Cemetery of the Saint Aleksandr Nevskii Monastery.
E N D AVM 200210 Reference: Alexander Poznansky http://www.tchaikovsky-research.net
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