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Classical Breakdown

29. The life of Tchaikovsky

October 20, 2020

Tchaikovsky came from humble beginnings in rural Russia and rose to fame as one of the greatest composers. He spent a good amount of his life as a musical outsider and died at the age of 53 at the top of his fame. In this episode, John Banther and James Jacobs explore his life, friendships, and music.

Show Notes

The family Orchestrion

This self-playing instrument may have been young Tchaikovsky's introduction to music. 

Hear the voice of Tchaikovsky

This recording comes from the very early days of recorded sound (1890) and may take a few listens to fully understand. We can hear the voices of pianists Anton Rubenstein and Julius Block, Conductor Vasily Safonov, opera singer Yelizaveta Lavrovskaya, and of course Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. 

A. Rubinstein: What a wonderful thing.
J. Block: At last!
E. Lavrovskaya: Disgusting... <unclear>! How dare you call me crafty?!
Vasily Safonov: (sings).
P. Tchaikovsky: This trill could be better.
E. Lavrovskaya: (sings).
P. Tchaikovsky: Block is a good fellow, but Edison is even better!
E. Lavrovskaya: (sings) A-o, a-o.
V. Safonov: (In German) Peter Jurgenson in Moscow.
P. Tchaikovsky: Who was it who spoke just now? It sounded like Safonov.
V. Safonov: (whistles).

Great live performances of Tchaikovsky's music