How many opportunities does one get to peer into the head, not to mention the “love life” of the famous 19th century composer and conductor Pyotr Tchaikovsky?
As it turns out, the Bremerton Symphony Orchestra will be offering such a glimpse April 21, providing an orchestral backdrop to a two-person dramatization of Tchaikovsky’s written correspondence.
And to start things off, a Mozart appetizer.
“The concert is centered around Tchaikovsky, and he really admired Mozart,” said Bremerton Symphony conductor Elizabeth Stoyanovich, noting the heavily melodic trends in each composer’s work. “It’s also a nice balance between classical music and romantic music.”
The evening concert is entitled “A Visit From the Old World,” part of the Bremerton Symphony Association’s Conductor Series which will match Mozart’s (1756-1791) 29th Symphony with an intimate and educational look into Tchaikovsky’s (1840-1893) creative genius. It all begins at 7:30 p.m. April 21 at the Bremerton High School Performing Arts auditorium.
Interspersed with the music, Earl Rice and Tatyanna Siomina will be acting out the written correspondence between the composer and his good friend Madame von Meck regarding the creation of his Fourth Symphony.
“He basically wrote this symphony for her … he always referred to it as ‘our symphony,’” Stoyanovich said. “On one side of the stage, she’ll be sitting by her writing table and on the other side, there will be Tchaikovsky … we will play the music as it’s being described.”
There’s quite a love story behind Tchaikovsky’s Fourth, especially when taking into account that many historians believe the composer was homosexual. If that were the case, it was likely shrouded in utmost secrecy, living in Russia during the Soviet Era.
Tchaikovsky was married in 1877 to a woman that he apparently couldn’t love. Shortly after their honeymoon, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, he ran away. Still, on paper, he the pair remained lawfully wed until death.
But a far more influential woman in the Russian composer’s life was von Meck, with whom he shared more than 1,000 letters between 1877 and 1890. She was a wealthy widow with a passion for performing arts and financial philanthropy for musicians.
“She provided the money, he provided the music,” Stoyanovich said. “It wasn’t like they had a physical relationship in any way, but they loved each other intensely.
“(‘A Visit From the Old World’) pulls in not only the music aspect, but also socially what’s going on in their lives,” she added. “These were real people, with real lives and they felt these highs and lows, and art came from that.”
And it’s classical art that’s so catchy it could very well be stuck in one’s head for the duration of the evening. Case in point, “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from the famed “Nutcracker,” which folks can’t stop humming every time the Christmas holiday comes around.
In addition to his six symphonies, 10 operas and numerous concertos, Tchaikovsky is also well known for his ballets including that American Christmas requisite.