I want to understand two points which I did not understand very well from
some written sources.
Did Tchaikovsky meet Clara Schumann once in his childhood?
It is mentioned about some musical trick which Tchaikovsky made during
childhood, with transition of the key of some music. Do you have any knowledge
about this, and if yes, what is this exactly?
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
Clara Schumann did tour the major cities of Russia in 1844, when Tchaikovsky
was just 4 years old, but there is no evidence to show that they actually
met. The Tchaikovsky family were then living in the town of Votkinsk in Vyatka
province, which was a long way from the musical centres of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
We know a great deal about Tchaikovsky's later encounters with the leading
musical figures of his time (including Brahms, Dvorák, Grieg, etc.), but it
appears that he never met Clara Schumann. This is all the more surprising
because she remained very active in the same circles until the last years
of her life, and she eventually outlived Tchaikovsky by three years.
I am sorry not to be able to help with your other question about Tchaikovsky's
piano technique, but perhaps another poster to this forum will have the answer
My attention has been drawn to the following passage from Gerald
Norris’s excellent documentary study Stanford, the Cambridge Jubilee,
and Tchaikovsky (Newton Abbot, 1980), which towards the end confirms
that Tchaikovsky did in fact meet Clara Schumann in his youth:
“Brahms had also attended a rehearsal during Tchaikovsky’s first tour
a year earlier, listening to the First Suite in Leipzig on 3 January
1888. In his diary of the tour, Tchaikovsky wrote that Brahms ‘made no
encouraging remarks; I was told he was very pleased by the first
movement, but did not praise the rest, especially the “Marche
Miniature”.’ The Germans tended to dislike the march; one critic called
it ‘a mere pattern of sounds’; another said it was ‘tea-caddy-decoration
style of art applied to music’. The first movement, Introduction and
Fugue, won many admirers, though, including Clara Schumann, who had
heard the work six years earlier in Frankfurt, entering in her diary on
3 February 1882, ‘Suite by Tschaikowsky; a good deal of talent and
ability; the national flavour which runs through it often makes it
interesting, but only in places. The first movement – introduction and
fugue – interested me most, it seemed to me the most finished.’ Clara
had previously been entertained by Tchaikovsky when, as a student at the
St Petersburg Conservatoire, he played the flute in one of Kuhlau’s
chamber works that was featured in a musical evening welcoming her to
the capital in March 1864.” (p. 335)
For the latter information Norris is drawing on the reminiscences by
Herman Laroche entitled “P. I. Tchaikovsky at the Saint Petersburg
Conservatory”, which are available (in Russian only) at the Belcanto
In the relevant passage Laroche recalls how Tchaikovsky studied the
flute under Cesare Ciardi so that he could play in the student orchestra
that Anton Rubinstein had decided to set up: “Tchaikovsky took part most
satisfactorily in performances of symphonies by Haydn and other works in
the standard student repertoire, and on one occasion, he performed,
together with our fellow-students Pugni [one of the sons of the ballet
composer], Gorshkov and Pomerantsev, a quartet for four flutes by Kuhlau
at a soirée which was adorned by the presence of Clara Schumann.” This
passage was also cited by Philip Taylor in his book Anton Rubinstein. A
Life in Music (Bloomington, 2007), p. 105.