Russians on Russian Music, 1880-1917: An Anthology

By Stuart Campbell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
Tchaikovsky

This period witnessed the composition of Tchaikovsky's last four operas and two ballets, the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies and Manfred, as well as many works in other genres. It was marked by increasing celebrity at home and ever greater international success.

(a) G. A. Laroche: Liturgy of St John Chrysostom for four-part mixed choir. Composition by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, op. 41 (Moscow: P. Jurgenson). Russian Herald, January 1880, no. 1. Laroche 2, pp. 109–18

The Imperial Court Kapella held a stranglehold over the music of the Russian Orthodox Church by virtue of the requirement that any church music composition be approved by the Kapella's director for use in public worship before it could be published. The incident described here illustrates the growing perception among musicians that Russian church music had stagnated. The resulting court case broke the stranglehold, leading to the efflorescence of sacred composition in Moscow (see Chapter 5 (g)).

Among the artists in whom present-day Russia can take pride vis-à-vis Western Europe, a foremost place belongs to the composer whose name appears in the title of this article. Pyotr Il'ich Tchaikovsky has not yet reached the age of forty and was a comparatively late starter: fourteen years ago, at the beginning of 1866, his Concert Overture in F was performed at one of the Moscow concerts of the Imperial Russian Musical Society, which must be considered the start of his career. Since then his name has swept through Germany, Belgium, France, England and the United States. This reputation seems the more remarkable if one recalls that Mr Tchaikovsky is not himself a virtuoso performer; he has not been able to promote his compositions' success through his own performances of them; he has found himself, so to speak, constantly in the hands of conductors, singers and pianists, and his success has been entirely dependent on the degree of their attention, talent and zeal. A composer so placed is rightly thought to be at a disadvantage; but it is essential to add that by the very kind of composition which has

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Russians on Russian Music, 1880-1917: An Anthology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Sources xv
  • Chapter One - Tchaikovsky 1
  • Chapter Two - Rimsky-Korsakov 42
  • Chapter Three - Other Composers of the Former Balakirev Circle 92
  • Chapter Four - The Belyayev Generation 132
  • Chapter Five - Moscow and Her Composers 168
  • Chapter Six - New Stylistic Directions 198
  • Epilogue 234
  • Index 259
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