Life and strife
Fritz Reiner's Tchaikovsky -
'... Reiner's no-nonsense approach avoids any hint of emotional excess.'
The music room in Tchaikovsky's country house at Klin is surrounded by
scores and signed photos of fellow composers and artists. Central is a grand
piano which was apparently always out of tune in Tchaikovsky's day. When I
was allowed to play a bit of Tristan on it, the instrument was
admirably adjusted to equal temperament so that, if I had had both time
and ability, I could have played the whole of the '48' there with perfect
confidence. As it was, I celebrated my modest Wagnerian excursion with some
Russian dancing in the garden. Tchaikovsky might not have approved either
of my activities when working on Symphony No 6 at his table in the small
bedroom off. He started the symphony on 16 February 1893, finishing it in
draft on 5 April despite a whirl of intervening conducting engagements.
He outlined progress to his Davidov nephew, the eventual dedicatee: 'There
will be much that is new in this symphony where form is concerned, one point
being that the finale will not be a loud allegro, but the reverse, a most
unhurried adagio. You cannot imagine the bliss I feel after becoming convinced
that time has not yet run out and that it is still possible to work.'
Copyright © 24 December 2003
Robert Anderson, London UK