Controversial Death of Tchaikovsky
His demise has proved very controversial with many theories questioning the official narrative of cholera killing a healthy 53 year old male who avoided risk in his diet, especially drinking unboiled water. Could it have been suicide or some other foul means? What cannot be disputed is the mystery surrounding his death which has so far raised more questions than answers and will likely never be resolved to provide a definitive conclusion to his untimely demise
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Legacy
The musical heritage of Tchaikovsky is destined to live long and strong due to its timeless reflection of the human experience conveyed so delicately that it had to patiently mature while the twentieth century ripened into an era of appreciative musical reception.
Historically, his boundary bursting music found his critics wanting whilst it detained him at the critical juncture of indistinctive culture. Back in the day his critics often dismissed him as:
"too Russian for great Western music and not Russian enough for Russia".
Today, the inclusion of more of his music than any other Russian classical composer in the modern repertoire is the smoking gun proving Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's legacy is of a man of musical vision born way ahead of his time.
Quotes About Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The researcher Alexander Komarov shared this glowing assessment:
"Tchaikovsky’s natural gifts, perfected through hard work and placed in the service of a spiritual quest, put him on a par with the great masters of the past who attained new levels of artistic greatness and originality"
The conductor Leon Botstein voiced this view:
"Tchaikovsky’s real triumph, in fact, was his expression of a disarmingly effective and direct form of psychological realism, using instrumental music"
The Austrian music critic Eduard Hanslick reserved some harsh words for him:
"The Russian composer Tchaikovsky is surely not an ordinary talent, but rather an inflated one, with a genius-obsession without discrimination or taste"
Hanslick went on to state this infamous critique:
"Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto gives us for the first time the hideous notion that there can be music that stinks to the ear"
The Russian composer Nikolai Myaskovsky was more sympathetic of his work as he once described Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony as:
"one of the greatest creations of Russian music"
The academic Marina Kostalevsky talked significantly of the 2009 release of archival documents including letters to and from the composer:
"it was not perceived by many Russians as the definitive argument in a dispute that has gone on for years about Tchaikovsky’s sexuality. Some readers have even questioned the authenticity of particular letters kept in the archive. Therefore, it can be argued that the Russian edition, despite the wealth of new information … about Tchaikovsky’s life, did not erase the old biases about his sexuality in his native country"
The acclaimed Russian writer Leo Tolstoy mused upon this interesting comparison:
"Look, you take a novel by Walter Scott, or even Dickens, and read it to a peasant - he'll understand it. But take him to listen to a symphony by Tchaikovsky or by Brahms and company, and all he'll be able to hear is noise"
The Russian music critic Nikolay Kashkin opined this opinion:
"He has all the essential attributes for conducting an orchestra: total self-control, extreme clarity and definition in his beat … His direction of the orchestra is distinctive for its utter simplicity"
The composer and critic César Cui was disparaging about Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1:
"It has a lot of nice and agreeable things, but depth and power it has none whatsoever"
In a letter, a young Gustav Mahler once described Tchaikovsky as:
"an elderly gentleman, very likeable, with elegant manners, who seems to be quite rich"
The writer Leslie Kearney delved the purple prose of psychological comparison:
"Tchaikovsky has long intrigued music-lovers as a figure who straddles many borders - between East and West, nationalism and cosmopolitanism, tradition and innovation, tenderness and bombast, masculine and feminine"
The musicologist Roland John Wiley commented on his questionable demise:
"The polemics over [Tchaikovsky's] death have reached an impasse ... Rumors attached to the famous die hard ... As for illness, problems of evidence offer little hope of satisfactory resolution: the state of diagnosis; the confusion of witnesses; disregard of long-term effects of smoking and alcohol. We do not know how Tchaikovsky died. We may never find out"
The historian Joseph Horowitz shared a modern day assessment:
"Tchaikovsky is today more admired than deplored for his emotional frankness; if his music seems harried and insecure, so are we all"
The British critic Anthony Holden put the pieces together with this excellent summation:
"Twenty years after Tchaikovsky's death, in 1913, Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring erupted onto the musical scene, signalling Russia's arrival into 20th-century music. Between these two very different worlds, Tchaikovsky's music became the sole bridge"