Many great men have suffered an homosexual condition: Plato,
Leonardo, Newton, Oscar Wilde, and possibly Kant, and so others.
But geniuses must not be judged by their intimate lfie but by their
Tchaikovsky's music is astonishingly beautiful and capable of
penetrating the depths of human soul as no other composer in history.
I think we must not insist so much in his human weakness.
It is not a matter of to forgive or absolve a genius. That is only
We must smiply admire, respect and be grateful to these great men for
the invaluable treasure inherited to us, not minding stubbornly in
affairs that can only damage their sublime immensity.
Professor Alberto Saenz Enriquez
It is difficult to deny that during the last century or so,
Tchaikovsky's reputation as a composer has suffered just because he was
homosexual. Some critics seem to have believed that confessing a liking
for his music would be equivalent to condoning practices which were
often considered to be immoral, or even illegal. In his book
Stanford, the Cambridge Jubilee and Tchaikovsky (1980), Gerald
Norris cites a number of examples where Western critics had abruptly
reversed their evaluations of the composer's music, once his
homosexuality became known. Terms such as "overblown",
"hysterical", "neurotic", and even "sick" started to appear in
critiques of his works
Clearly the music had remained the same, but for some
critics it now became almost shameful to confess to liking Tchaikovsky's
music, and even now in the early 21st century, this view still persists
in some quarters. An alternative and exactly opposite viewpoint can also
be encountered: that Tchaikovsky's music should be celebrated precisely
because he was homosexual, and his music reflects the agony of the
persecution that his "condition" condemned him to endure.
It seems to me that both these extreme viewpoints are
falling into the trap of distorting history by imposing today's culture
and values are upon past events. We must try to forget what we think we know, and re-evaluate as objectively as possible the surviving
historical sources, as, for example, Alexander Poznansky has
sought to do in his new
article Tchaikovsky: A Life. The
picture of the man that emerges from such investigations is quite
different from the grotesque caricatures that are seen in the worst
kinds of fictionalised dramas and biographies. Far from being an
hysterical, neurotic misanthrope, Tchaikovsky turns out to be a
remarkably well-balanced individual, whose opinions and judgements were
highly respected by his contemporaries, who could be gregarious with his
family and friends, and who had a great empathy for people, despite his
own innate shyness and sensitiviity.
There will always be people for whom an artist's
personality (or at least their preconceptions of it) prevents them from
fully appreciating their creations. But should we really be denigrating
or promoting an artistic work on the perceived virtues or foibles of its
creator—particularly as it's usually impossible for everyone to agree
on what constitutes a virtue or foible?
I believe that Tchaikovsky's music has stood the test of
time precisely because he was the most human of composers, with a
gift for depicting our agones and ecstasies, our flaws and successes,
and everything inbetween. Quite a remarkable achievement, you might
think, for the son of a mining engineer from a remote Russian province.
And if, on occasion, the expression of such human emotions confronts us
with our own inadequacies, then surely that is our problem, and
I find it absolutely amazing that people should judge
Tchaikovsky's music by his sexuality after all it not as if he was the
only homosexual composer. Britten, Bernstein (bisexual) and probably
many others, surely this shouldn't condemn their music to oblivion and
I'm sure most right minded people would not think that way.
Here is a very interesting article about Tchaikovsky and his "alleged
I don't know what Tchaikovsky scholars think about it, but it really
makes sense to me.
Don't believe that I can't stand the truth, I would be the first one
to be happy if I could make sure of it. One should remember that
Tchaikovsky's homosexuality is only an hypothesis. And even if he was
homesexual, does it really change something today?
Please keep in mind that there are millions of gays and lesbians all
around the world (you probably know one—a friend, a neighbour, a
collegue, a cousin—even if you're not aware of it, and you might even
enjoy his or her company). You don't choose to be homosexual (though you
can deny it). And it's not a sickness. It's just a difference. Aren't we
all different? Tolerance, tolerance, tolerance...
This article you refer to doesn't make much sense, sense since it
published before 1991, when the first serious and scholarly studies on
Tchaikovsky's life finally appeared in English. I'm thinking of books on
the composer's life published by an American scholar Alexander Poznansky
and then by the Russian scholar Valery Sokolov, where they established
Tchaikovsky's homosexuality beyond any doubt, and restored parts of his
letters that had been previously been suppressed.
Anything published on the composer's private life before Poznansky's
and Sokolov's books is just really just guess work. See Poznansky's
contributions to this site in the Forum and Features sections.