[Solved] peter ilyich tchaikovsky

This paper will discuss the life and work of the Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky in terms of his relationship to the Romantic movement in music. Tchaikovsky was born in 1840 in the town of Votinsk in Russia. Although he learned to play the piano as a child, his family wanted him to pursue a career as a lawyer. For this reason, Tchaikovsky began attending the St. Petersburg School of Jurisprudence at the age of 10, and by the age of 19 he obtained a position as clerk in the Ministry of Justice (Gilder 345).

However, at the age of 22, Tchaikovsky decided to give up his life as a lawyer in order to become a composer of music. He went to the Conservatory of St. Petersburg for his musical training, and after graduation he got a job as a music teacher in Moscow. Unfortunately, Tchaikovsky’s change of career was not enough to bring him a life of happiness. Throughout his career as a composer, Tchaikovsky suffered from extreme depression and feelings of doubt. In 1877, he married a fellow student from the Conservatory of St. Petersburg, Antonina Miliukov.

During that same period, however, Tchaikovsky also began a battle with his repressed feelings of homosexuality. His marriage to Antonina quickly fell apart when “he tried to drown himself, and nearly lost his reason” (Gilder 345). Nevertheless, soon after his divorce, Tchaikovsky’s musical career took a turn for the better when he began receiving the patronage of a wealthy widow named Nadezhda von Meck. Because of her fondness for Tchaikovsky’s music, von Meck corresponded with him and sent him money throughout the remainder of his life, even though they never met face-to-face.

Under von Meck’s patronage, Tchaikovsky became increasingly famous as a composer. Nevertheless, he continued to be depressed and withdrawn in his personal life. In the year 1893, when he was 53 years old, Tchaikovsky died suddenly from a case of cholera that he got from drinking some contaminated water. Some music historians believe his death was from an accident; however, David Brown, a scholar who has extensively studied Tchaikovsky’s life, insists that the melancholy composer committed suicide (Brown 626).

Despite the problems in his personal life, Tchaikovsky’s creative output was enormous. He wrote six symphonies, including his Sixth Symphony (“Pathetique”), which is among the most celebrated such works today. He also wrote 23 other works for the orchestra, including several overtures such as Romeo and Juliet and the Festival Overture (“1812”). He wrote 11 operas, of which The Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin are the most popular. He composed three famous ballets: The Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker.

He wrote 10 concertos for either piano, violin or cello. He also wrote six works for chamber orchestra, one piano duet, and 18 opuses for solo piano. In addition, he composed five major choral works, 13 songs cycles (each of which contains between six and 16 songs), and a few works of incidental music. The historical significance of the composer can be seen in the fact that he was representative of the Romantic period in music. The Romantic movement, which swept Europe during the 19th century, can best be understood in contrast to the Classical period which preceded it.

The Classical period, which was characterized by the music of Haydn, Mozart, and early Beethoven, was a time when composers were generally supported by the patronage of the nobility. The musical style of the period was based on the ideas of harmonic proportion which had originally been developed during ancient Greek and Roman times. Thus, it was a style in which elegance and refinement were considered far more important than emotional expression. In contrast, the Romantic period was marked by the dissolution of the European patronage system.

The composers, who no longer had to create their works for the pleasure of kings and queens, began to be more emotionally expressive in their music. In addition, the music itself became more expansive, with more chromaticism and tone color than ever before. Two other unique elements in Romantic music were the spread of nationalism, in which composers expressed pride in their home nations, and the use of “program music,” in which instrumental music was “inspired by a poem, novel, play, painting, sculpture, or some other extramusical entity, and meant to suggest the essence of that entity to the listener” (Griffel 589).

It is interesting to note that Tchaikovsky, unlike most of his Romantic period contemporaries, was able to obtain the support of a patron during the later part of his life. Aside from this, Tchaikovsky’s music clearly shows many of the elements which are characteristic of the Romantic period in general. For example, his music was highly expressive and emotional. David Brown states that Tchaikovsky sought to “forge a musical language that might be a vehicle for his own overwrought emotions” (628). Tchaikovsky also used and expanded a style of composing in which there was a great deal of orchestral color.

In addition, much of his work was “program music,” based on inspirations from poetry, literature, and folklore (Claudon 288). Tchaikovsky’s music also exhibits a great deal of nationalism, as seen in “his innate Russianness and his love of his own country’s folk music” (Brown 628). Romantic elements can be seen, for example, in the Fantasy Overture (“Romeo and Juliet”), which was composed in 1870. It may be noted that this piece also shows Classical influences in that it is based on the sonata form. In addition, this overture begins with a four-part chorale which is reminiscent of pre¬Romantic styles in music.

However, Romeo and Juliet is clearly Romantic because it is an example of program music at its finest. Throughout the work, far more emphasis is placed on emotional expression than on harmony or structure. In terms of melody, the “feud theme” stands out as representing Romantic values. In order to express musically the battle between Romeo and Juliet’s families, this melody is short and agitated, unlike the smooth and elegant melodies favored in the Classical period. This agitation is enhanced by Tchaikovsky’s use of a syncopated rhythm which is marked by dotted notes and short rests.

Romeo and Juliet is also Romantic in its use of wide dynamics which further emphasize the emotional character of the work. Another example of Tchaikovsky’s Romanticism can be seen in his Festival Overture (“1812”), written in 1880. This work shows the influences of both nationalism and program music in that it is intended to remind the listener of Russia’s victory over Napoleon’s troops in the year 1812. Tchaikovsky makes use of several folk melodies in this overture, including the famous French tune “The Marseilles,” which is today known as the French national anthem.

In composing the 1812 Overture, Tchaikovsky clearly emphasized the expressive elements of drama and excitement over those of structure or stability. As in Romeo and Juliet, the piece also makes use of a wide dynamic range, another stylistic element which is typical of Romantic period music. In addition, Tchaikovsky’s expressiveness in this work can be seen in his unique manipulation of tone color which goes so far as to include such unusual “orchestral” items as bells and cannons.

Symphony Number 6 in B Minor (“Pathetique”) was written in 1893, shortly before Tchaikovsky’s death. This work again emphasizes emotional expression and as such it clearly exhibits the depression and pessimism which plagued the composer at that time in his life (Brown 626). As in Romeo and Juliet and the 1812 Overture, this symphony’s expressiveness can be seen in the stylistic ele¬ment of mixing loud and soft dynamics, with a “range stretching from ffff to ppppp” (626).

The Pathetique Symphony is also typical of the Romantic period in that it focuses on melody and tone color rather than harmony and form, and because it shows a tendency toward “episodic rather than integrated symphonic movements” (Whittall 129). This is in sharp contrast to the way Classical symphonies were generally composed. In addition, a Romantic interest in musical experimentation can be seen in Tchaikovsky’s use of 5/4 time in the second movement of this symphony. According to the Classical tradition, the rhythm of this dance movement should have been in 3/4 time. Tchaikovsky’s use of harmony in his Pathetique Symphony


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