Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Tchaikvosky

Music History Monday: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major

136 years ago today – on December 4, 1881 – Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major received its premiere in Vienna. It was performed by the violinist Adolf Brodsky and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Hans Richter. The concerto is, in my humble opinion, Tchaikovsky’s single greatest work and one of a handful of greatest concerti ever composed.  Yet its premiere there in Vienna elicited one of the most vicious reviews of all time. Question: do any of us like being criticized? And please, let’s not dignify that oxymoronic phrase, “constructive criticism”. I don’t mean to sound oversensitive, but after a certain age, all criticism – constructive or not – becomes simply infuriating. Unfortunately for him, Peter Tchaikovsky was both one of the most over-sensitive and over-criticized composers in the history of Western music. (Growing up, his governess called him “a porcelain child” so easily was his spirit chipped and cracked.) So: criticism. No one likes to be criticized. And no major composer ever received more damning criticism than did Peter Tchaikovsky. Given his incredibly sensitive nature, and the fact that he was, as a homosexual in Tsarist Russia, leading virtually a double life, well, you’ve got […]

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