Peter Tchaikovsky 1840-1893
Contents: Background The Nutcracker Suite Swan Lake 1812 Overture Symphony #5
Background Born: April 25, 1840 (Julian Calendar) OR May 7, 1840 ( Gregorian Calendar) Father: Mining Engineer Mother: Alexandra (Second of his father’s three wives) Location: Votkinsk (Present day Udmurtia)
1854: At the age of 14 Tchaikovsky’s mother died. He then composed a waltz in her memory. 1862: Tchaikovsky left the Ministry to study full time at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. 1850: Tchaikovsky enrolled at the School of Jurisprudence. 1845 1862 1845: At age 5, Tchaikovsky began piano lessons. 1858: Tchaikovsky left school and received employment as an under-secretary in the ministry of Justice, where he joined the Ministry’s Choral group. 1852: Tchaikovsky began with a well-known piano teacher, Rudolph Kundinger, from Nuremberg.
1866: Tchaikovsky graduated from St. Petersburg Conservatory. Took a job teaching at the Moscow Conservatory, where he began to compose. 1869: The Voyevoda, Tchaikovsky’s first Opera was given at the Bol’shoy in Moscow. 1872: Symphony #2, Little Russian 1874: Piano Concerto #1 1863 1874 1868: Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony was heard by the public in Moscow with great reviews. 1873:The Tempest 1871: String Quartet in D Major. 1863: Anton Rubenstein, the director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory began to have Tchaikovsky study everything including conducting.
1877: Tchaikovsky married one of his pupils, Antonina Milyokova. Antonina declared her love for Tchaikovsky and hinted at suicide if he did not take her as his wife. Tchaikovsky was in the process of composing Eugene Onegin, which involved Onegin rejecting Tatiana. He could not find it in himself to reject Antonina like Onegin had in the story. 1877: After his breakdown he came in contact with Madame Nadezhda von Meck. She gave his a yearly allowance allowing him to give up teaching and spend all his time composing. They never met, but his fourth symphony was wrote for her. 1884: After spending much time traveling, Tchaikovsky produced his Manfred symphony. 1875 1884 1877: Tchaikovsky and Milyokova separated only nine weeks after. Tchaikovsky then attempted suicide by drowning, he was saved by his brother, Modeste, only to suffer a nervous breakdown. He then moved to Switzerland to recover. 1875: Swan Lake 1878-1884: Tchaikovsky resigned from the conservatory. Tortured by his sexuality he did not produce any music between this time.
1891: Tchaikovsky toured in the United States at many places including Music Hall, now Carnegie Hall, with great success. 1888-1889: Tchaikovsky toured as a conductor to Germany, France, and England. 1893: Tchaikovsky received an honorary doctorate of music from Cambridge University. 1885 1893 1893: Tchaikovsky died of cholera, thought to be a result of drinking a glass of unboiled water. 1892: The Nutcracker premiered. 1890: While working on The Sleeping Beauty and The Queen of Spades, Madame Nadezhda von Meck passed away. Tchaikovsky was no longer supported by her, but this was also a bad hit to his self esteem from which he never recovered.
Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker Suite
During Pyoter Tchaikovsky’s work as a government clerk, he realized that he would never fit in in a mainstream job and continued on with his passion for music.
After he became disillusioned by an “unjust” promotion, he entered the new Conservatory of the Russian Society of Music.
Thirty years later (December 1891) Tchaikovsky had become a well known and respected composer. The Imperial Opera Directorate was so impressed with his work, that he commissioned the new composer to write both a one act opera and ballet for the following season.
Tchaikovsky severely disliked the story on which the ballet was to be based (The Nutcracker and the Mouse King). But he began working on it in 1892 anyway and finished the rest of the music that summer.
The Ballet became world famous and is now regarded as his best work, it is certainly the most widely known.
Swan Lake One of Tchaikovsky’s Most Popular Pieces
The History of Swan Lake • Written in 1875 for Tchaikovsky’s friend, Petrovich Begichev • Begichev was manager of the Russian Imperical Theatres in Moscow • Tchaikovsky wrote the entire score for 800 roubles (equivalent to 28/29 US dollars) • The original choreographer was Julius Reisinger • The most famous prima ballerina for this production was Pierina Legnani
Tchaikovsky and Swan Lake • Swan Lake was Tchaikovsky’s first ballet • Tchaikovsky had a lot of control over the story of Swan Lake and its content • After its first year of performance, the ballet became unsuccessful because of Tchaikovsky’s complicated music (too hard to dance to) • Little evidence of the original sheet music can be found because there are no memos or notes left from the piece’s creation
Tchaikovsky and Swan Lake • This show was known to be a huge influence on the history of ballet • It brought about a major shift between different cultural eras and artistic styles • It bordered on the ideas of romanticism and the ideas of symbolism in the dancing
Renovations of Swan Lake • After Tchaikovsky’s death, Swan Lake was redone. This is the version that is performed all over the world today. • However, the music from Tchaikovsky is still used. Although his music was too advanced for past times, the show is now appreciated and loved for its creativeness and emotional effectiveness.
Random Tidbits • Tchaikovsky and his colleagues both agreed that the swan represents womanhood in its purest form • The ancient Greeks considered the swan to be the bird closest to the Muses • Because Tchaikovsky’s music was so hard, one ballerina asked that he alter his music in order to choreograph the dances with easier steps. He was outraged but later agreed to this, creating the Pas de Duex in the Swan Lake we see today.
"I took this work partly for money, which I need, and partly because I have long wanted to try my hand at this kind of music."
History of 1812 Overture • One of Tchaikovsky’s best known and most impressive smaller pieces • Worked on his piece for about a month and it was finished on November 19, 1880
History of 1812 Overture • Tchaikovsky didn’t really enjoy creating the 1812 Overture and probably wouldn’t have completed it if it wasn’t for a special occasion (Russia’s victory over Napoleon) • Tchaikovsky was noted for saying he found this piece “very loud and noisy”
Symphony No. 5 in E Minor op. 64
History of the Fifth Symphony • Dedicated to Count Ave-Lallemant • (Chairman of the Committee of the Hamburg Philharmonic Society) • Written in 4 months • May-August 26, 1888
History of the Fifth Symphony • Overall theme: a man working against fate • His second symphony based on a theme • It was a very difficult piece for him to write • He didn’t wait for inspiration • Worked through with poor health and low spirit (low self confidence) • His low spirit shows through the despair of the music • This is persistent throughout the piece • Ends victoriously • Only one of his symphonies that does • It was also a triumph for him to accomplish the piece
The End! Are there any questions?