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COMPOSERS

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Eugene Onegin  De Nederlandse Opera  26-06-2011
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
De Nederlandse Opera
2011

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's life

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840, in Votkinsk, Russia. The son of a successful engineer, he received a sound education from their French governess. Tchaikovsky attended law school in St. Petersburg and took music lessons meanwhile from Gabriel Lomakin, including some composing. He graduated and took a job as a bureau clerk but disliked it very much. By this time he was totally absorbed by music. He met the Rubinstein brothers, Anton and Nikolai, both of whom were composers. In 1862 Anton opened Russia's first conservatory under the sponsorship of the Imperial Russian Music Society, in St. Petersburg. Tchaikovsky was its first composition student. His early works were well made but not memorable. In 1866 Nikolai Rubinstein invited him to Moscow, to serve as professor of composition at the Conservatory. The musical poems Fatum and Romeo and Juliet that he wrote in 1869 were the first works to show the style he became famous for. Tchaikovsky worked as an all-around musician in the early 1870s, and he taught, composed, wrote critical essays, and conducted, although he was not a great conductor. In 1875 he composed what is perhaps his most universally known and loved work, the Piano Concerto No. 1. Also popular was Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake (1876). It is the most successful ballet ever written if measured in terms of broad audience appeal. Tchaikovsky finished the Opera Eugene Onegin in 1879. This is his only opera generally performed outside the Soviet Union. Other works of this period are the Violin Concerto (1881), the Fifth Symphony (1888), and the ballet Sleeping Beauty (1889), The Nutcracker (1891). Tchaikovsky's fame and his activity extended to all of Europe and America, where he had a successful tour in 1891. He never knew of its eventual success because he contracted cholera and died in 1893.

Tchaikovsky's Operas

Il Voevoda (1867), Undina (1869), L'Opričnik (1872), Il fabbro Vakula (1874), Eugene Onegin (1878), La Pulzella d'Orleans (1879), Mazepa (1883), La maliarda (1887), La dama di picche (1890), Iolanta (1891).

Curiosities

Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin

Tchaikovsky took Eugene Onegin, his most famous opera masterpiece, together with The Queen of Spade, from the novel with the same title by Aleksandr Puskin. The opera debuted in Moscow on the 17th of March 1879. Moving and unforgettable melodies, dripping with mal de vivre. An opera made of personal failures, where surrending counts more than acting. Even the death of the idealistic poet Lenskij looks almost accidental. In the end the opera finishes without winners nor losers but with a defeat of feelings, more tragic: Onegin and Tatjiana don't want or can't love each other? Is it maybe more gratifying to embrace the pain of regret? Or of a sense of duty? Tchaikovsky's poetry fills this extraordinary title of Russian musical literature, to listen to, strictly, with ears and heart open.
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