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On Russian Music$
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Richard Taruskin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249790

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249790.001.0001

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Chaikovsky as Symphonist

Chaikovsky as Symphonist

(p.125) 9 Chaikovsky as Symphonist
On Russian Music

Richard Taruskin

University of California Press

This chapter describes Chaikovsky as symphonist. Chaikovsky, the Russian composer, was the first since his beloved Mozart to contribute equally to the enduring operatic and symphonic repertoires. That is a notable fact, testifying not only to the genuineness of the oft-discounted bond the cosmopolitan Chaikovsky always felt between himself and his cosmopolitan alter ego, but also to the genuineness of the symphonic tradition which passed through both of them, bypassing the more insularly Germanic symphonic school, now seen as “universal.” Chaikovsky, like every other professional composer of the later nineteenth century, but unlike Mozart, studied textbook models of form. As a member of the first graduating class from the earliest Russian conservatory, in St. Petersburg, he had a first-class academic education in music and remained proud of it to his dying day. That is what enabled him to become a central contributor to the symphonic repertoire, despite the remoteness of his native turf from the traditional centers of symphonic practice.

Keywords:   Chaikovsky as symphonist, Chaikovsky and Mozart, Germanic symphonic school

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