Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tonight We Love


Standing ovations tonight as the Russians gave the TSO's strings a work out. Bows flying and likely strings a-popping.

We were listening to Korsakov and Tchaikovsky at The After Work series. Thanks again to Tom Allan for his interesting trivia.


When Tchaikovsky's  shared the score of his first piano concerto with his mentor, Nikolay Rubinstein, the pianist told him it was "banal, awkward and unplayable." Only if Tchaikovsky made changes would he agree to perform it. Tchaikovsky took his Opus 23 to Boston, where they played it as written, to great acclaim. Eventually, Rubinstein did play it, as written, because it became a favourite in St. Petersburg as well as abroad.

You may find the melody of Opus 23 familiar. It was also one of Liberace's faves, "Tonight We Love."

I didn't realize it, but can't say it comes as any great surprise to learn that Tchaikovsky, like Liberace, was gay.
Despite his natural preference, at 29 Tchaikovsky fell sincerely in love with a female soprano and they became engaged. She unceremoniously dumped him for a baritone, based on rumours and suspicions. Rubenstein ended up having to break the news to his protege.

Tchaikovsky lived most of his life as a bachelor, but did attempt marriage again in his thirties. It was very short-lived. The late 1800's and early 1900s were not favourable times for homosexuals. The Soviets tried to erase the evidence of his homosexuality from the history books, but things have a way of resurfacing.

My grandmother loved both Liberace and Tchaikovsky. I remember her being inspired to play after watching Liberace on Merv Griffin. Funny how some things stick in your mind. I wonder if Grandma would be dismayed or blase to find out about their hidden lives.


About ten years before he composed the groundbreaking Rite of Spring, Stravinsky was living with Korsakov and was no doubt influenced in some way by the Russian Easter Festival overture. This piece borrows heavily from pagan themes and folk music so was more than a bit subversive, given its title.

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