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Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Norman Lebrecht - Slipped disc

April 16

Russia’s most elusive artist turns 60

Norman Lebrecht - Slipped discHe has never been one for giving interviews. Such public comments as he utters are often disparaging . He is an intensely private artist who has preserved some kind of individualist integrity in Putinist Russia. He was caught once as a hostage in a war of oligarchs; he is more careful now. Mikhail Pletnev turned 60 this weekend (April 14 or 15, the date is disputed). Winner of the 1978 Tchaikovsky competition, he is among the most interesting, least showy pianists of our time – as well as a compelling conductor of limited repertoire. UPDATE: Does he know ‘Happy Birthday’?

Classical iconoclast

April 22

Formula saves the BBC Proms !

Formula saves the BBC Proms 2017!  This may be the beginning of the end for Sir Henry Wood's dreams of the Proms as serious music. Fortunately The Formula, perfected by much-maligned Roger Wright, is strong enough to withstand the anti-music agendas of the suits and robots who now run the Proms.  Shame on those who rely on formula instead of talent, but in dire straits, autopilot can save things from falling apart.  So, sift through the detritus of gimmick and gameshow to find things worth saving   (Read here what I wrote about The Formula)   Danierl Barenboim is a Proms perennial, for good reason, so we can rely on his two Elgar Proms (16 and 17 July) especially the Sunday one which features a new work by Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Deep Time, which at 25 minutes should be substantial  Pascal Dusapin's Outscape on 19/7, 28 minutes, also substantial Anotherr "regular" Proms opera, Fidelio on 21/7, with a superlative cast headed by Stuart Skelton and Ricarda Merbeth, tho' Juanjo Mena conducts  Ilan Volkov conducts Julian Anderson's new Piano Concerto on 26/7 , tho's the rest of the programme, though good isn't neccesarily Volkov's forte  On 29/7 Mark Wigglesworth conducts David Sawer's The Greatest Happiness Principle  On 31/7, Monteverdi Vespers with French baroque specialists Pygmalion   On 1/8, William Christie conducts the OAE in Handel Israel in Egypt and on 2/8, John Eliot Gardiner, the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists do Bach and my beloved Heinrich Schütz.  On 8/8 Gardiner returns with Berlioz The Damnation of Faust, with Michael Spyres. First of this year's four Mahlers is Mahler's Tenth (Cooke) with  Thomas Dausgaard and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra  Robin Ticciati, back with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on 15/8 with an interesting pairing, Thomas Larcher Nocturne-Insomnia with Schumann Symphony no 2.   Throughout this season, there are odd mismatches between repertoire and performers, good conductors doing routine material, less good conductors doing safe and indestructable. Fortunately, baroque and specialist  music seem immune.  See above ! and also the Prom featuring Lalo, Délibes and Saint-Saëns with François Xavier-Roth and Les Siècles on 16/8   Perhaps these Proms attract  audiences who care what they're listening to  Schoenberg's Gurrelieder on 19/8 with Simon Rattle, whose recording many years back remains a classic but may not be known to whoever described the piece in the programme "Gurrelieder is Schoenberg’s Tristan and Isolde, an opulent, late-Romantic giant."  Possibly the same folk who dreamed up the tag "Reformation Day" like Nigel Faarage's "Independence Day" Nothing in life is that simplistic  The music's OK, but notn the marketing. Sakari Oramo conducts the BBC SO in Elgar Symphony no 3 (Anthony Payne) on 22/8   Potentially this will be even bigger than the Barenboim Elgar symphonies, since Oramo is particularly good with this symphony, which may not be as high profile but is certainly highly regarded by those who love Elgar   On 26/8, Jakub Hrůša conducts the BBC SO in an extremely well chosen programme of Suk, Smetana, Martinů, Janáček and Dvorák   More BBCSO on 31/8 when Semyon Bychkov conducts a Russian programme  Marketing guff seems to make a big deal of national stereotypes, which is short sighted  These programmes cohere musically, but that's perhaps too much to expect from the new Proms mindset On 1/9,  Daniele Gatti conducts the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Bruckner and Wolfgang Rihm  An odd pairing but one which will come off well since these musicians know what they're doing They are back again on 2/9 with  Haydn "The Bear" and Mahler Fourth  which isn't "sunny" or "song-filled".  It's Mahler,  not a musical.  Gergiev brings the Mariinsky on 3/9 with Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich Symphony no 5.  Another huge highlight on 7/9 : The Wiener Philharmoniker, with Daniel Harding in Mahler Symphony no 6 - so powerful that nothing else needs to be added to sugar the pill   For me, and for many others, that will be the real :Last Night of the Proms   Party time the next day, with Nina Stemme as star guest     




Royal Opera House

April 11

What makes a good dance score?

Artists of The Royal Ballet in ‘Rubies’ from Jewels, The Royal Ballet © 2017 ROH. Photograph by Alastair Muir. There are certainly two composers most indelibly associated with ballet: Tchaikovsky , the composer of Swan Lake , The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty ; and Stravinsky , the man behind The Firebird , Petrushka , The Rite of Spring and so many others. In the second and third parts of Jewels , choreographer George Balanchine turned to these two musical greats, but he did not use ballet music: he used music they had written for the concert hall. There is still something about these scores, however, that makes them perfect for dance, from the graceful lilt of Tchaikovsky’s polonaise to the vivacity of Stravinsky’s finale. And there are certain other composers, too, whose music seems to attract choreographers particularly often: Rachmaninoff , Chopin , Bach … not to mention the minimalists . What it is, then, that makes music suitable for dance? What makes good ballet music? We asked people from across The Royal Ballet and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House what they thought. Hear from: Romany Pajdak , First Artist of The Royal Ballet Liam Scarlett , Artist in Residence of The Royal Ballet Koen Kessels , Music Director of The Royal Ballet Peter Manning , Concert Master of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Zenaida Yanowsky , Principal of The Royal Ballet Romany Pajdak , First Artist of The Royal Ballet There is so much soul and feeling in Tchaikovsky's music, from joyous ecstasy to heart-rending sorrow and all the shades in between. I’m not sure there is a definitive answer, nor a particular set of rules that one could follow for the ideal score. Tchaikovsky did write some of the most iconic ballet music in direct response to detailed scenarios. His Serenade for Strings, however, was not written with dance in mind and yet Balanchine’s response to it is my all-time favourite work to dance. The joy of dancing to Tchaikovsky comes from the emotional depth of his work. For me there is so much soul and feeling in his music, from joyous ecstasy to heart-rending sorrow and all the shades in between, that I only know how to acknowledge through moving. The work I most respond to as a dancer tends to have this emotional resonance. However, the great joy of dancing with The Royal Ballet, with such a vast repertory and versatile orchestra, is that one experiences so much different music. The rhythmic playfulness of Stravinsky, the melodic complexity of Shostakovich and the use of space and time in Max Richter ’s work all inspire and challenge choreographers in different ways. Pieces of music I had never thought of dancing to, when seen and heard through the eyes and ears of a choreographer, suddenly become accessible, and a new realm of appreciation opens up. Just as in the wider world, it takes all kinds. Romany Pajdak in rehearsal for Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan, The Royal Ballet © ROH/Tristram Kenton, 2014 Liam Scarlett , Artist in Residence, The Royal Ballet Scarlett is currently working on a new work for The Royal Ballet, Symphonic Dances , to music by Rachmaninoff. The more you listen to Rachmaninoff's music, the more you realize its complexity. It’s up to a choreographer to know when something can be choreographed, and when it can’t. Symphonic Dances is the fourth time I’ve used Rachmaninoff’s music , but I think I’ll always steer clear of the concertos and the symphonies, which are just so epic, so huge. With Symphonic Dances, I think Rachmaninoff imagined that there might be movement associated with it – it’s in the title. All of his music is so beautiful and lavish; it has a very Russian opulence to it, and it’s huge in scale. I think he was very aware of his heritage and his predecessors, so while Tchaikovsky has some soaring melodies, Rachmaninoff goes even deeper with his. There are certain pieces of music where the first thing you think is how hard they are, but in my eyes that’s not a good thing. Similarly, with ballet, you don’t want it to look difficult – there’s nothing worse than an audience waiting for the dancers to mess up. In a circus, a tightrope walker might find what they do easy, but they make it look difficult, to keep the audience excited. But in ballet you can’t do that – you put effort into it, but to make it look effortless. It’s the same with Rachmaninoff’s music : while it is technically very hard, for me it doesn’t sound difficult for difficult’s sake. You don’t notice the level of craftsmanship behind it to begin with: the more you listen to it, the more you realize its complexity. Steven McRae and Laura Morera in Sweet Violets © ROH/Tristram Kenton, 2014 Koen Kessels , Music Director of The Royal Ballet The relationship between choreographer and composer is key for a good ballet score. The relationship between choreographer and composer is key for a good ballet score, whether it is written for ballet or not, and whether the composer is alive or dead. The music of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, always theatrical, suits choreographers so well because it gives them the imaginative freedom to explore everything from form, to emotion, to narrative. Their ballet music is symphonic, and their concert music is born out of their theatrical passion. Tchaikovsky pored over scores borrowed from the Moscow theatre library, and Stravinsky, born in the ‘wings’, started out making orchestrations for Les Sylphides (from Chopin’s Nocturne op.32 no.2 and Grande Valse brillante op.18) – his reward was writing a new ballet, The Firebird. Both were rather unimpressed by the limitations imposed by the ballet masters of the Russian Imperial theatres (lists of dances, indications of tempi, describing the narrative...). They even initiated the concept for ballets and insisted on working collaboratively with choreographers on the scenario and the dramaturgy. And both gained the respect of choreographers in the creative process, meaning that they did not have to adapt their scores that much to specific requests. Today, such composers as Thomas Adès (with his cataclysmic Polaris from 2011, choreographed by Crystal Pite in 2014) and Esa-Pekka Salonen (Nyx, 2012, choreographed by Wayne McGregor in 2016) may not be so obsessively dance-minded, but both are conductors working in the theatre, and both use a truly communicative language. Hence their fruitful collaboration with choreographers. Meanwhile, Bach’s music, with its supreme structure and architectural perfection, still sounds contemporary, and it’s no surprise that he continues to inspire new ways to express emotion and movement. Peter Manning , Concert Master of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House To create magic we must always explore style, content, effect, narrative and technical possibility, and the time of the music’s composition. Conversations with choreographers are vital in choosing ballet music and among the greatest artistic explorations we have. I had the honour of being taught some years ago by a great musician, the violinist Nathan Milstein , whose love of ballet allowed him to form a close relationship with Balanchine. It was this relationship that led to Balanchine’s outpouring of Stravinsky ballets. Those discussions must have been fascinating. The challenge is to find music that contains the idea of rhythmic dance and shape, alongside flowing and lyric movement. Simply put, there is almost too much music to choose from, and to create magic we must always explore style, content, effect, narrative and technical possibility, and the time of the music’s composition. In the finale of Schubert ’s Ninth Symphony, for example – used by William Forsythe in The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude – we can see the episodic nature of the writing: muscular, with rhythmic punctuation, but also with interludes of pure lyricism, and a long crescendo of intensity, speed and emotion… . In one movement we glimpse another world, and the mixture of forms creates its own dynamic. As Concert Master I am fully aware that in the musical canon there is an A–Z of emotions and rhythms, and we have 800 years or more of compositions to choose from, as well as music fresh off the press. When music is brought to sit perfectly with choreography, something of great magic and importance can flow. At The Royal Ballet we experience the pure joy of mixing music with dance, and it is a great privilege working to help maintain the classics, as well as exploring the fresh, new and vital. Zenaida Yanowsky , Principal of The Royal Ballet I don’t believe there’s such thing as ‘ballet music’. We like to think that rhythmic music is best suited for dance, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the movement itself is rhythmic and the music is not, as in Flight Pattern . Choreographers have a tendency to use more intuitive music to create work and that’s maybe because our brains would have to work too hard otherwise. Having to decipher the sound and the movement at once means you have to make so many fast connections! I don’t believe there’s such thing as ‘ballet music’, though... more, just the sound that will complement the choreographer’s vision and will intertwine with the movement to create and achieve an emotional goal. There are some immense pieces of music I would like to see and dance to. Thomas Adès’s Totentanz is one of them. What do you think makes a piece of music perfect for ballet? Add your thoughts in the comments below. Jewels runs until 21 April 2017. Tickets are still available. The production is given with generous philanthropic support from Julia and Hans Rausing, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, Lady Ashcroft, Lindsay and Sarah Tomlinson, Peter Lloyd and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund. Symphonic Dances and The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude appear in a mixed programme with Tarantella and Strapless 18–31 May 2017. Tickets are still available. The mixed programme is given with generous philanthropic support from The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund; Symphonic Dances with generous philanthropic support from Simon and Virginia Robertson, Victoria Robey and the New Scarlett Production Syndicate, with additional philanthropic support from the JP Jacobs Charitable Trust; and for Strapless Christopher Wheeldon’s Position as Artistic Associate is generously supported by Kenneth and Susan Green, with generous philanthropic support from Mr and Mrs Edward Atkin CBE.

Royal Opera House

April 10

George Balanchine's Jewels to be relayed live to cinemas on 11 April 2017

Artists of The Royal Ballet in ‘Emeralds’ from Jewels, The Royal Ballet © 2017 ROH. Photograph by Alastair Muir. George Balanchine 's celebration of ballet, Jewels , will be broadcast live to cinemas from the Royal Opera House on 11 April 2017 at 7.15pm BST. The sparkling trio of ballets was inspired by the choreographer's trip to Van Cleef & Arpels , the famous jewellers in New York, and was first performed 50 years ago at New York City Ballet . To enhance your viewing experience, access our Jewels Digital Programme for free using the promo code FREEJEWELS. The cinema relay will be presented by 'Strictly Come Dancing' winner Ore Oduba and Soloist of The Royal Ballet Kristen McNally . The story Jewels made history as the first three-act non-narrative ballet, focusing not on a story, but on the three contrasting dance styles. Each of the independent movements draws on a different period of ballet's history, as well as the characteristics of the three different pieces of music. Read more: Ballet Essentials: George Balanchine's Jewels Watch the rehearsals for George Balanchine's Jewels Artists of The Royal Ballet in ‘Rubies’ from Jewels, The Royal Ballet © 2017 ROH. Photograph by Alastair Muir. The music Each of Balanchine's three acts uses music from a different composer. 'Emeralds' draws on the world of French Romantic music, using works by Gabriel Fauré to evoke a mood of elegance and beauty. The second ballet, 'Rubies', draws on Balanchine's own experience in the mid-20th century, with the orchestra playing the jagged Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra by Igor Stravinsky acting as the soundtrack for the dancers' crisp, witty movements. 'Diamonds', the final act, uses music from Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky 's Third Symphony and references the early 20th century Russian ballet of Balanchine's younger years, capturing the grandeur of Imperial Russia. Helen Crawford, James Hay and Anna Rose O'Sullivan in ‘Emeralds’ from Jewels, The Royal Ballet © 2017 ROH. Photograph by Alastair Muir. The production Balanchine himself commented that the ballet had 'nothing to do with jewels', with the Jewels of the title referring only to the dancers' costumes. As a result, expect opulence and sparkle, using costume designs from the original NYCB production and new set designs by Jean-Marc Puissant . Read more: Costume design for Jewels Your Reaction: the audience reactions to Jewels Jewels dance highlight: the 'Diamonds' pas de deux Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae in ‘Rubies’ from Jewels, The Royal Ballet © 2017 ROH. Photograph by Alastair Muir. The cast Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae star in 'Rubies', while Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares lead in 'Diamonds'. Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares in ‘Diamonds’ from Jewels, The Royal Ballet © 2017 ROH. Photograph by Alastair Muir. Add your review After the relay, we will publish a roundup of audience tweets, so share your thoughts with the hashtag #ROHjewels . Jewels runs until 21 April 2017. Tickets are still available. The production will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 11 April 2017. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list . The production is staged with generous philanthropic support from Hans and Julia Rausing, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, Lady Ashcroft, Lindsay and Sarah Tomlinson, Peter Lloyd and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund .



Royal Opera House

April 5

Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season 2017/18

Cinema broadcasts live from the Royal Opera House © ROH 2016. Photographer Sim Canetty-Clarke During the 2017/18 Season, 12 productions — six from The Royal Opera and six from The Royal Ballet — will be relayed live from Covent Garden to cinemas around the world. The programme features a mixture of new productions and classic works. Tickets will soon be on sale from local cinemas. Find your nearest venue and sign up to our mailing list . Die Zauberflöte – 20 September 2017 The Royal Opera Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Director: David McVicar Conducted by Julia Jones and starring Roderick Williams, Siobhan Stagg and Mauro Peter La bohème – 3 October 2017 NEW PRODUCTION The Royal Opera Giacomo Puccini Director: Richard Jones Conducted by Antonio Pappano and starring Nicole Car, Michael Fabiano and Mariusz Kwiecień Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – 23 October 2017 The Royal Ballet Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon Music: Joby Talbot Casting TBC The Nutcracker – 5 December 2017 The Royal Ballet Choreography: Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov Music: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky Casting TBC Rigoletto – 16 January 2018 The Royal Opera Giuseppe Verdi Director: David McVicar Conducted by Alexander Joel and starring Dimitri Platanias, Lucy Crowe and Michael Fabiano Tosca – 7 February 2018 The Royal Opera Giacomo Puccini Director: Jonathan Kent Conducted by Dan Ettinger and starring Adrianne Pieczonka, Joseph Calleja and Gerald Finley The Winter's Tale – 28 February 2018 The Royal Ballet Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon Music: Joby Talbot Casting TBC Carmen – 6 March 2018 NEW PRODUCTION The Royal Opera Georges Bizet Director: Barrie Kosky Conducted by Jakub Hrůša and starring Anna Goryachova, Francesco Meli and Anett Fritsch NEW Wayne McGregor / The Age of Anxiety / NEW Christopher Wheeldon – 27 March 2018 2x WORLD PREMIERES The Royal Ballet Choreography: Wayne McGregor / Liam Scarlett / Christopher Wheeldon Music: Leonard Bernstein Casting TBC Macbeth – 4 April 2018 The Royal Opera Giuseppe Verdi Director: Phyllida Lloyd Conducted by Antonio Pappano and starring Anna Netrebko, Željko Lučić and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo Manon – 3 May 2018 The Royal Ballet Choreography: Kenneth MacMillan Music: Jules Massenet Casting TBC Swan Lake – 12 June 2018 NEW PRODUCTION The Royal Ballet Choreography: Liam Scarlett after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov Music: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky Casting TBC

Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky
(1840 – 1893)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (May 7, 1840 - November 6, 1893) was a Russian composer of the Romantic era. His wide ranging output includes symphonies, operas, ballets, instrumental and chamber music and songs. He wrote some of the most popular concert and theatrical music in the classical repertoire, including the ballets Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, the 1812 Overture, his First Piano Concerto, his last three numbered symphonies, and the opera Eugene Onegin. Born into a middle-class family, Tchaikovsky was educated for a career as a civil servant, despite his obvious musical precocity. He pursued a musical career against the wishes of his family, entering the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1862 and graduating in 1865. This formal, Western-oriented training set him apart from the contemporary nationalistic movement embodied by the influential group of young Russian composers known as The Five, with whom Tchaikovsky's professional relationship was mixed.



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