Catalogue Code: 782182
Release Date: 22 Aug 2011
PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY The enormous popularity of Tchaikovsky's music since the turn of the century shows no sign of abating. His orchestral works, in particular, with their wealth of melody and brilliant scoring, have long found a ready response with audiences everywhere. Whatever criticisms may be levelled at Tchaikovsky, few would disagree that he was a musical genius. Peter Tchaikovsky was born at Votkinsk on May 7, 1840, the son of a government inspector of mines. By the age of four it was evident that young Peter had the stuff of music in him and he was encouraged to have lessons in the rudiments of the art. When the Tchaikovsky family moved to St. Petersburg in 1848 his studies were continued along more conventional lines, his father wishing him to make his career in the Civil Service. As a young man Tchaikovsky found his job in the Ministry of Justice uncongenial and before long he broke loose in order to devote himself to music. Entering the newly founded St. Petersburg Conservatoire in 1862, he was placed under Zaremba and Anton Rubenstein, who taught him orchestration. Three years later Rubenstein's brother, Nicholas, invited him to Moscow to take up a professorship at the Conservatoire there, which had only recently opened. Once settled in the Russian captial Tchaikovsky began to compose actively and to come into contact with Balakirev, leader of the nationalist group of composers. Discovering that he had little in common with their ideals he charted a lone course, leaning more towards Western European concepts than the nationalists. Some success attended the performance of his music and, in 1876, he began his famous correspondence with Madame von Meck, whose patronage freed him from financial worries. That the two were destined never to meet was in keeping with the strange, tormented life which the composer lived. His marriage, in 1877, ended in disastrous failure and Tchaikovsky had to go abroad in order to avoid a complete breakdown. From the year 1888 onwards he undertook a number of successful international tours, visiting America in 1892 and England the following year; at Camridge, he was honoured by the degree of Mus.D. He died at St. Petersburg on Novemer 6, 1893, after developing cholera through drinking unpurified water. The titles of many Tchaikovsky works are household words, and perhaps the "1812" is the most widely known of all his many popular compositions. "Ouverture Solennelle - The Year 1812", to give the work its full title, was completed in 1880 and first performed at the consecration of the Cathedral of the Redeemer in the Kremlin two years later. It celebrates the events of 1812, the year of the Russian armies' victories over Napoleon. Incorporated into the music are a Russian folksong, the Marseillaise and the Russian national hymn "God preserve Thy People". The Fantasy Overture Hamlet is not so often performed as Tchaikovsky other Shakesperian inspiration, Romeo and Juliet. Nevertheless in recent years it has become popular, thanks mainly to the ballet which Robert Helpmann built arouund it. It dates from 1888 and was originally intended as a prelude to a French production of the play to be staged in Moscow.
1. 1812 Overture, Opus 49
2. Hamlet - Fantasy Overture, Opus 67