Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto: Oistrakh, Milstein, Heifetz

Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major has long held a cherished position in the musical canon. Yet, the value of this popular work was not always appreciated. Following the premiere on December 4, 1881, performed by the Russian violinist Adolph Brodsky with Hans Richter leading the Vienna Philharmonic, the influential critic Eduard Hanslick wrote savagely, “Tchaikovsky is surely no ordinary talent, but rather, an inflated one…lacking discrimination and taste.” He continued, “The same …

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Asmik Grigorian Sings Tchaikovsky

On April 14, the Lithuanian soprano, Asmik Grigorian, performed a live-streamed recital at Congress Hall in Vilnius. Although no audience could be admitted, Grigorian’s mother, Irena Milkevičiūtė was in attendance. Milkevičiūtė, a famous opera singer in her own right, celebrated her birthday on the same day. Asmik’s father was the Armenian tenor, Gegham Grigorian. Three Romances The program included three of Tchaikovsky’s Romances for voice and piano. All three songs are tinged with …

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Stravinsky Meets Tchaikovsky: Reimagining “The Sleeping Beauty”

Tchaikovsky’s fairytale ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, was first performed at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre on January 15, 1890. Among the audience members of this premiere production was the eight-year-old Igor Stravinsky, who later noted it as a formative musical experience. For the first time, the young Stravinsky was struck by the majesty of the orchestra, and well as the music of Tchaikovsky, a personal friend of Stravinsky’s father. In January of 1941, Stravinsky received a …

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Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings: Music from the Heart

In November of 1880, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was hard at work on two sharply contrasting pieces. The first was the bombastic and commemorative 1812 Overture, a piece the composer delivered out of a sense of dutiful professional obligation. The second was the elegant and soulful Serenade for Strings in C Major. Regarding the Serenade, Tchaikovsky wrote to his publisher, “I am violently in love with this work and cannot wait for it to be played.” In an …

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Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” Finale: The Spell is Broken

Tchaikovsky’s 1876 ballet, Swan Lake, tells the fairy tale story of a young prince (Siegfried) who falls in love with a princess (Odette) who has been kidnapped by the evil sorcerer, Rothbart. Through a spell cast by Rothbart, Odette is transformed into a white swan during the day, returning to human form only at night. Later, Rothbart lays a trap for Siegfried, deceiving him with a woman who looks like Odette, but who …

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Remembering Alexander Buzlov

The internationally renowned Russian cellist, Alexander Buzlov, passed away yesterday after suffering a stroke. He was 37. A 2006 graduate of the Moscow Conservatoire, Buzlov was a student of Natalia Gutman. He was awarded third prize at the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2015. Here is Alexander Buzlov’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme, Op. 33. Eight adventurous variations grow out of an original theme that pays homage to the classical elegance of …

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Tchaikovsky’s “Un poco di Chopin”: A Mysterious Homage

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky seems to have had a strangely conflicted opinion of the music of Frédéric Chopin. There are accounts of the young Tchaikovsky, nine at the time of the great Polish composer’s death in 1849, giving a spectacular performance of two Chopin mazurkas as a child. In the 1860s, Nikolay Kashkin observed that Tchaikovsky “did not particularly like Chopin, as he found in him a certain sickliness of expression, as well as …

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