Home > Forum > Tchaikovsky and snobbery

Tchaikovsky and snobbery

Dear friends:

It's very easy to notice how controversial becomes to argue about Tchaikovsky s genius. Either you recognize his greatness or either you insist, as in past decades, that he was not great at all.

The fact is that snobs judge from worn out references of errated commentators and far from a complete and deep konowledge of his wealthy catalog. Why? Because snobs can t frogive him his appeal to intelectuals paralel to universal public taste for his music.

Snobs love rare and indigestable means of creation and Tchaikovsky s works are indeed rare for their uncommon beauty but very much atractive for the universal human ear, brain and heart.

Alberto Saénz Enríquez

There can be no doubt about Tchaikovsky's enduring popularity as a composer. His music almost rivals that of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven in frequency of performances and recordings. For generations, audiences have responded to his works with affection and enthusiasm. Among the champions of Tchaikovsky's music we find the greatest singers, musicians, conductors and orchestras of the past 100 years.

Regarding the critical appraisal of his work, we have moved far beyond the days of darkness and ignorance when Tchaikovsky was dismissed as a sentimental hack who wrote good tunes to compensate for his lack substance (well, most of us have...) We are fortunate to have at our disposal fine recordings of many, if not most, of his stage, orchestral, chamber, and other works, which enable us to form a more complete picture of the range of his artistry. Our knowledge of Tchaikovsky as a man and musician is greatly enhanced by the excellent biographical and critical studies by G. Abraham, D. Brown, A. Poznansky, and other writers.

The image of Tchaikovsky that has emerged in recent years is that of a conscientious craftsman with a strong work ethic and thoroughly professional technique. The unevenness of much of his output may be attributed to the fact that he toiled hard even when his invention was flagging, because he believed that "inspiration does not come to the lazy." He was certainly capable of writing mediocre music, but the same can be said for most of the great composers. His finest works (Onegin, the ballets, the late symphonies) easily rival the masterpieces of his immediate contemporaries.

Today there can be no excuse for denying Tchaikovsky's greatness as a composer. If any further confirmation is needed, we should remember that he was revered by such diverse masters as Mahler, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Gershwin, and Shostakovich. Of course, some might dismiss their views by arguing that Stravinsky and Prokofiev were not "guided by the craft of musicology." (whatever that means)

Nicolas Krusek

Gentlemen I would suggest that we refrain from making ad hominem or personal remarks on the contributors to this forum and maintain a degree of civility towards one another. Being at variance with the views of others does not make one a snob. There is more than one viewpoint on this issue. Is someone a snob because he dares venture forth views that are at variance with those of others? i dont think so. To entertain alternative views especially if they are well founded is fitting and proper. But to assume that one alone has the access to the truth does not become one. Have a good day gentlemen.

Albert Gasparo

Dear friends:

There are no offensive remarks when you don t mention names or persons. Mr Gasparo however called me once a flatterer personally, so I agree this is not a place to offend, but simply to say the plain truth and deffend it thoroughly.

My respects to all.

Alberto Saénz Enriquez

Ladies and gentlemen, I would suggest that "maintaining a degree of civility toward one another" has to work both ways. In a previous post, Mr. Gasparo wrote caustically that "Mr. Geidelberg's specious and irrelevant...such attitudes are more suited to schoolboys who lack knowledge of the greater world..." not to mention, "this also applies to Mr. Enriquez' specious views of undiluted adulation." Would you say these are civil comments, or do they smack of "ad hominem or personal remarks?" Is Mr. Gasparo suggesting that the rest of us should respect his views, but not vice versa?

On a more positive note, I do enjoy reading some of the "devil's advocate" views on this forum, as they challenge me to justify my opinion of this composer. I do not expect anyone to accept Tchaikovsky's greatness on faith, nor would I necessarily argue that his achievement is comparable in consistency and scope to that of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. I have always maintained—and I will continue to maintain—that his technique, range of expression, and melodic gifts justify his inclusion among the great composers of his time. However, whether one likes Tchaikovsky's music or not is a purely personal and subjective matter and, as such, is not open to debate. Facts can be proved or disproved, argued and counter-argued, but opinions and tastes cannot.

Nicolas Krusek

Gentlemen let us put this matter to rest. I dont think alluding to those you disagree with by calling them "snobs" as per Mr. Enriquez is at all helpful. Nor do I feel that declaring as Mr. Giedelberg did that if you cant write music greater than Tchaikovsky one is not entitled to offer a critique is appropiate. That is the gist of the matter...and that is what I meant by ad hominem or personal comments.Nor do i care for preachments. i dont hold your views on the subject so lets not have any further discussions on this issue.. .thank you.

Albert Gasparo

This discussion is closed and has been archived, but you are welcome to try our new forum at:

This page was last updated on 05 November 2013