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I hear that Toscanini has played “Pathétique” replacing the fourth movement with the third movement to achieve a performance effect.

I cannot believe that ludicrous story ! Is it true or not ?

Kenji Sugiyama

Dear Kenji Sugiyama,

I never heard about Toscanini conducting Tchaikovsky's symphony in such a peculiar order, but when the German conductor Oscar Fried visited Bolshevik Russia in 1922, he decided to perform the Sixth Symphony with the Allegro molto vivace (march-scherzo) movement transposed to the end of the symphony, following the Adagio lamentoso. The performance was greeted by a rousing ovation, but in a speech on that occasion Anatoly Lunacharsky, while recognizing that Tchaikovsky's music was perhaps "very attractive", he nevertheless called it "poisonous". Only music in a major key, declared the People Commissar, could correspond to Bolshevik ideology, whereas music in a minor key was, by its very nature, Menshevik.

Alexander Poznansky

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This page was last updated on 05 November 2013