This is what people think of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony which he composed in 1893. Maybe it’s true since he died of cholera in November of 1893. This Symphony is rich with drama, complex harmonies and enlightening melodies in the midst of chaos.
This symphony has four movements:
1. Adagio – Allegro ma non troppo
2. Allegro con grazia
3. Presto: Allegro molto vivace
4. Finale: Adagio lamentoso
If you listen to the symphony you can perceive the Tchaikovsky’s lament for his lover with his cross-motifs as well as the stressandos in the strings. Also in how the melodies shift from one instrument to another with the orchestra’s background chords stressing or giving depth to what the melody is trying to express.
Many historians have said that Tchaikovsky was a master in the “evolution & development of a motif or melody” and wholeheartedly agree. Maybe he wasn’t the best composer in a “strategical point of view” (where we can differentiate part A from part B), but this is the whole point of his music. This is where Tchaikovsky’s music blossoms. Just as in his life, just as in his time period, his music reflects the chaos of life. The ups and downs. How everything overlaps. How everything starts harmonically and very elegantly and then it turns into nothing and everything at the same time.
Tchaikovsky’s music represents life itself. Not as other composers which is very structural (I’m looking at you Mozart) or too complex and have no time “to breathe” (as Bach’s fugas). In short, Tchaikovsky’s music is simply beautifully complex just as life is. Or maybe I’m just a big Tchaikovsky fan.
This will be a first in four posts based on Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C major Op.48. This piece composed by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky in 1880 has four movements. If you are not familiar with this I’ll explain it very simply!
When a composer, well composes, he/she thinks just like an author thinks in writing a novel. “Serenade for Strings” is the title of the “novel”, but the “novel” has various chapters. In classical music, each “chapter” (aka. movements) will have a title. The text, for example I have a project where the “main title” is “You and I” and a movement (chapter) is “My heart is not ready to take off”. In classical music, if somebody’s work has a title like in the examples above we classify said work as programmatic music. Programmatic music is a piece of art whose title alludes to something else.
Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings” has 4 movements:
- Pezzo in forma di sonatina: Andante non troppo — Allegro moderato
- Valse: Moderato — Tempo di valse
- Élégie: Larghetto elegiaco
- Finale (Tema Russo): Andante con spirito
In this case, Tchaikovsky used tempo marking (which gives the orchestra, in this case, how they should play the score). Tempo markings are usually in Italian, but they can be in French, English, German or Russian.
I hope you enjoy this mini-series!