Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - The Seasons

The Seasons, Op. 37a[1] (also seen as Op. 37b; Russian: Времена года; published with the French title Les Saisons), is a set of twelve short character pieces for solo piano by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Each piece is the characteristic of a different month of the year in
Russia. The work is also sometimes heard in orchestral and other
arrangements by other hands. Individual excerpts have always been
popular – Troika (November) was a favourite encore of Sergei Rachmaninoff,[2] and Barcarolle
(June) was enormously popular and appeared in numerous arrangements
(for orchestra, violin, cello, clarinet, harmonium, guitar and even
mandolin).


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky[a] (/ˈkɒfski/ chy-KOF-skee;[2] Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский,[a 2] IPA: [pʲɵtr ɨˈlʲjitɕ tɕɪjˈkofskʲɪj] (About this soundlisten); 7 May 1840 – 6 November 1893[a 3]) was a Russian composer of the Romantic period. He was the first Russian composer whose music would make a lasting impression internationally. He was honored in 1884 by Tsar Alexander III and awarded a lifetime pension.

Although musically precocious, Tchaikovsky was educated for a
career as a civil servant. There was scant opportunity for a musical
career in Russia at the time and no system of public music education.
When an opportunity for such an education arose, he entered the nascent Saint Petersburg Conservatory,
from which he graduated in 1865. The formal Western-oriented teaching
that he received there set him apart from composers of the contemporary nationalist movement embodied by the Russian composers of The Five with whom his professional relationship was mixed.

Tchaikovsky's training set him on a path to reconcile what he had
learned with the native musical practices to which he had been exposed
from childhood. From that reconciliation, he forged a personal but
unmistakably Russian style. The principles that governed melody, harmony
and other fundamentals of Russian music ran completely counter to those
that governed Western European music, which seemed to defeat the
potential for using Russian music in large-scale Western composition or
for forming a composite style, and it caused personal antipathies that
dented Tchaikovsky's self-confidence. Russian culture exhibited a split
personality, with its native and adopted elements having drifted apart
increasingly since the time of Peter the Great. That resulted in uncertainty among the intelligentsia about the country's national identity, an ambiguity mirrored in Tchaikovsky's career.

Despite his many popular successes, Tchaikovsky's life was
punctuated by personal crises and depression. Contributory factors
included his early separation from his mother for boarding school
followed by his mother's early death; the death of his close friend and
colleague Nikolai Rubinstein; and the collapse of the one enduring relationship of his adult life, his 13-year association with the wealthy widow Nadezhda von Meck, who was his patron
even though they never actually met each other. His homosexuality,
which he kept private, has traditionally also been considered a major
factor though some musicologists now downplay its importance.
Tchaikovsky's sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera, but there is an ongoing debate as to whether cholera was indeed the cause of his death.

While his music has remained popular among audiences, critical
opinions were initially mixed. Some Russians did not feel it was
sufficiently representative of native musical values and expressed
suspicion that Europeans accepted the music for its Western elements. In
an apparent reinforcement of the latter claim, some Europeans lauded
Tchaikovsky for offering music more substantive than base exoticism
and said he transcended stereotypes of Russian classical music. Others
dismissed Tchaikovsky's music as "lacking in elevated thought"[3] and derided its formal workings as deficient because they did not stringently follow Western principles.

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