Spivakov Plays Tchaikovsky

Here is a rare gem which deserves more recognition. It’s a slightly grainy archival recording of Russian violinist Vladimir Spivakov performing the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in 1975. Spivakov is accompanied by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Israel Gusman. In June of the same year, Spivakov made his Vienna debut performing the rarely-heard Haydn Violin Concerto in C major. You can hear his recording of the Haydn here. …

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Tchaikovsky’s Rhythmic Games

For all of its perceived bombast and emotional excess, a unique kind of elegance, lightness, and motion lies at the heart of much of Tchaikovsky’s music. Even when Tchaikovsky was not writing for the ballet, ballet music, with its eternal sense of motion, seemed to be coming out. Tchaikovsky was obsessed with the music of Mozart, perhaps the epitome of classical elegance. He said Mozart’s works were “the highest, most perfect culmination ever …

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Schumann and Tchaikovsky: The Music of Manfred

"Manfred On The Jungfrau," watercolor by John Martin (1837)

The stars are forth, the moon above the tops Of the snow-shining mountains.—Beautiful! I linger yet with Nature, for the night Hath been to me a more familiar face Than that of man; and in her starry shade Of dim and solitary loveliness, I learn’d the language of another world. -Lord Byron, Manfred Demons inhabit Lord Byron’s Manfred. In the 1,336-line dramatic poem, Manfred is tormented by guilt surrounding a mysterious past transgression …

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Tchaikovsky’s Winter Daydreams

What’s in a name? In the case of Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony, completed in 1866, it’s hard to say for sure. Tchaikovsky gave the work the descriptive title, Winter Daydreams (the first and second movements are subtitled, Dreams of a Winter Journey and Land of Desolation, Land of Mists). Beyond these descriptive phrases, the First Symphony remains pure music, without a program. At moments, the music may suggest the play of sunlight and shadow on a …

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Remembering Joseph Silverstein

Legendary violinist, conductor, and teacher Joseph Silverstein passed away yesterday in Boston. He was 83. Born in Detroit, the son of a public school music educator, Silverstein studied with Efrem Zimbalist, William Primrose, Josef Gingold, and Mischa Mischakoff. He served as concertmaster of the Boston Symphony for 22 years, beginning in 1962. In 1971 he was appointed assistant conductor of the BSO. He was music director of the Utah Symphony between 1983 …

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Trinity Church, Boston: Architecture and Sound

  Yesterday marked the anniversary of the birth of noted nineteenth century American architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886). Richardson’s memorable and influential designs include the turreted Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh, Albany’s City Hall and New York State Capital, Buffalo’s New York State Asylum, and Chicago’s mighty Marshall Field Wholesale Store (now demolished), as well as a host of libraries and houses in smaller towns. Richardson’s buildings, load-bearing and often featuring extensive stone and …

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Four Musical Ways to Say Goodbye

Earlier in the month, we listened to the final movement of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, a song cycle about death, renewal, and immortality. Written in the final years of Mahler’s life, Das Lied von der Erde, along with the Ninth Symphony (completed in 1909), were Mahler’s swan songs. (He completed one movement of a Tenth Symphony before his death in 1911). Both completed works leave us with a sense of finality, …

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