Saturday, December 10, 2005
Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky was of a highly sensitive, poetic nature; and his musical utterances were inclined to oscillate between strongly contrasted moods, though with a somewhat pronounced bent toward melancholic expression. He differed from the majority of great composers in his very strong predilection for the theoretical side of his art; he wrote and published two remarkable Manuals of Harmony, besides translating into Russian Gevaert's famous Instrumentation and Lobe's Katechismus der Musik. This throws light upon the sources of the meticulousness and perfection of his musical craftmanship, and the refinement and invariable effectiveness of his orchestration.
The development of Tchaikovsky's musical genius was thoroughly normal and steady. Each succeeding work appears to excel its forerunners in maturity, command of structure, eloquence of melody, and in accuracy and intensity of expression. His first Symphony, in G minor, Op.13 (Winter Storms), was composed in 1868; his second, in C minor, Op.17 (Little Russia), in 1873; the third, in D, Op.29 (Polish), in 1875. These first three all manifest many traits of superior beauty and originality, and confirm the earnestness with which he pursued his serious artistic ideals and aims. But they scarcely succeeded in passing beyond the frontiers of Russia, and, wherever they are known, they are overshadowed by the splendor of his other three, the fourth, fifth, and sixth Symphonies, in which his genius is proclaimed in tones that resound throughout the civilized musical world.
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