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A Birthday Present

Today (7 May 2009) is the 169th anniversary of Tchaikovsky's birth, and perhaps a fitting moment to announce a milestone in our project to translate the music review articles he contributed to Russian newspapers between 1868 and 1876. For the first time all 57 of these can now be read in English, thanks to brand new translations and commentaries specially prepared for this web-site by Luis Sundkvist:

Here you will find Tchaikovsky's thoughts on Beethoven, Schumann, Wagner, Liszt, Mozart, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, and Glinka as well as lesser-known composers, on performances by the famous (and not-so-famous) artistes, the dominance of the Italian Opera in Moscow, and the struggles between the Russian nationalism of "The Five" and the 'Western modernisers', all of which was taking place in Russia during that pivotal period.

On behalf of us all, may I express our appreciation to Luis, and for the assistance provided to him by the University Library at Cambridge University. We are also fortunate to have the benefit of previous research by Vasilii Iakovlev in his Russian edition of the articles—Полное собрание сочинений, vol. 2 (1953)—and of Ernst Kuhn in his German translations—P. Tschaikowsky: Musikalische Essays und Erinnerungen (2000).

Brett Langston


The following issue is more or less a computer error on my half that I was wondering if anyone can shed some light on to fix it, being that I'm not very good with computers myself. I was trying to view the "Birthday Present" newspaper articles by Tchaikovsky on other composers, but when I went to the article page to select an article, all of the font (was very tiny). Do you think I've hit some key on my computer keyboard which has prompted the text only on that one particular page to be so tiny that I cannot even read it?

Thanks for listening, and for any suggestions that are helpful ahead of time.

Michael Svoboda

I can only add that I've checked the coding for that page and can't find any reason why it should appear differently.

Brett Langston

Further to my inital message, I'm pleased to report that Mr Sundkvist has completed his translation of Tchaikovsky's Autobiographical Account of a Tour Abroad in the Year 1888, in which the composer talks about conducting, his concert engagement in Germany, and provides fascinating psychological portraits of Brahms and Grieg, and other figures from the musical world he encountered along the way.

Brett Langston

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