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Early critics of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony reacted differently to the different movements, but the finale repeatedly came in for criticism. Tchaikovsky even started to believe some of the more negative assessments himself: “I concluded that this symphony is unsuccessful,” he wrote after conducting it in Prague. “There is something repulsive about it.”
Tchaikovsky’s three ballet scores are all revered today, but they drew mixed—sometimes very negative—reviews when they were first performed. "The melody is too… how can I say it? Too confused, too capricious—in a word, it was not written 'balletically.'” (St Petersburg News, 1877) That was a critic’s verdict after the premiere of—wait for it—Swan Lake.
It’s not entirely clear when Vladimir Horowitz was born, or where. The date was October 1 (in the ‘new’, Gregorian style), but the year isn’t certain. He was once thought to have been born in 1904, but it seems that his passport was doctored in 1925—the year he left the Soviet Union—so that it said he was a year younger than he really was.
Often thought of as a challenging repertoire for both performers and audiences, Russian opera represents a diverse and impressive body of work. From opulent historical dramas to absurd philosophical fairy tales, there's something to please all kinds of opera lovers. Today we're swapping our "toi, toi, toi" for "Ни пуха, ни пера" as we dive right into the rich repertoire with a playlist of our favorite Russian operas...
In her book Shostakovich: A Life, Laurel E. Fay describes the memorable first lesson Dmitri received from his piano teacher mother, Sofya. “Within minutes,” Fay writes, “she recognized that she was dealing with a youngster of precocious musical ability, possessing perfect pitch and a phenomenal memory.” He progressed on the piano with ridiculous ease, and also started composing from the age of nine.
With all the back-to-school spirit in the air this time of year and all of the incredible Russian music we've been streaming this month, we thought it might be fun to head back in time to see what our favorite Russian composers looked like as kids. Will you be able to recognize them?
A journalist who attended his rehearsal asked him why he ended the programme with Parsifal since the music was more difficult for a broad audience than Tristan. He replied: "What can be done after redemption?"
Next week, we'll be celebrating Evgeny Svetlanov's birthday and streaming the last two rounds of the 4th Evgeny Svetlanov International Conducting Competition. We're kicking off our special Svetlanov in the Spotlight series with a fun list of things you may not know about the legendary Russian conductor...
“Nick appears immediately at the garden gate.” A simple enough statement, you might think. But for an opera director, maybe not...
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