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Tchaikovsky & Beethoven

I was going to write and ask what was T's take on the music of Beethoven. I sort of found the answer in your "people" section, (which is excellent by the way). I say, "sort of", because T's incessant and annoying ambivalence about just about everything once again confounds me.

In the one breath he says of B's 8th that it is "an unsurpassable stroke of genius." Then T says he shall not us him as a model. If nothing else, T is a model of a many with feet on both sides of the street!!

I would like to here from others more learned on the subject: what was T's definitive take on Beethoven or are we never to ever know. No wonder we need such an excellent site as yours to try and fathom such an illusive mind.

Thank you for your excellent site and attempting to answer questions not as "intellectually capturing as others."

George Boyd

P.S.: Note that a major difference between Tchaikovsky and Beethoven is the latter: ambivalent he was not!

Hello, Mr Boyd


Motif, in the introduction("la^ti^do-_ti---ti^do^re-_do---") and of main theme in the first movement of T's Sixth Symphony "Symphonie Pathetique", quotes the tune in the introduction of the first movement on which Beethoven by himself titled in French, not Russian, "La Grande Sonate Pathetique"("la----------la^ti--^dodo-------_ti-------").


the second movement of Beethoven's Third Symphony; funebre
the fourth movement of T's Fourth Symphony; "In the Field Stood a Birch Tree"
the fourth movement of T's Sixth Symphony; lamentoso
("Birch" means sticks used for punishment.)

---Keys of first subject in Sonatas---

Beethoven's Coriolan Overture;
Exposition: c minor
Recapitulation: f minor
T's Fourth Symphony, the first movement;
Exposition: f minor
Recapitulation: d minor
Usually Keys of first subject in Sonatas are same in both exposition and recapitulation. However these are different keys and in recapitulations first subjects are very shortened.

---Chords in the Beginnings of Symphonies---

Beethoven's Sixth Symphony;
Beethoven's Nineth Symphony;
T's Sixth Symphony;
They are "Empty Fifth".


Kamomeno Iwao

Tchaikovsky admired Beethoven but did not love him....that love was reserved for Mozart....and admiration for lesser lights such as Glinka, Bizet and even Lalo....he thought of Beethoven as the Jehovah of music while he thought of Mozart as the more approachable Jesus...doubtless Mozart's superb melodic invention was more in keeping with his own gifts as a melodist rather than a master of sonata form whose supreme exemplar was for the main theme of the first movement of the Pathetique being influenced by Beethoven's Sonata by the same name, that also has been questioned as a his tastes were pretty consistent...he may have admired Beethoven but he knew that following in his footsteps was beyond his capabilities....his florid melodic invention had as many models in Italian Bel Canto as this he was far from Beethoven's example...his tastes in music remained pretty constant...he admired the contemporary French composers but felt the Germans of his era such as Brahms were played out...on the other hand he didn't have a high opinion of the "Russian Five" outside of Rimsky Korsakoff...

I hope this helps answer your question Mr Boyd...

Albert Gasparo

Tchaikovsky Research : Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)

When Tchaikovsky entered the St Petersburg Conservatory in his early twenties he had a very poor knowledge of the great classics of the time step by step his knowledge and appreciation an age that had no phonograph, radio or tv and when concerts were few and far between one turned to the piano transcriptions of the time as the only outlet to acquaint oneself with the masterworks of orchestra etc......and of course that had its own the 1920's and 30's the advancements in recorded sound made possible the recordings of some of the more popular of the masterworks of music...but it was only with the advent of the long playing record in 1949 that we were deluged for the first time with exhaustive renderings of the great and not so great of all eras of the point were the public became sated with this embarrassment of riches....and so due to the unavailability of the advantages of our age Tchaikovsky had to endure the slow torturous route of gradually acquainting himself with the was only natural that he would change his mind as he became more acquainted with each work...the last string quartets of Beethoven which are now considered the acme of his attainments were thought by some to be the works of a mad man....and we will always have our favorites of any composer....that does not mean ambivalence....I for one prefer Beethoven's String Quartets and Piano Sonatas to his Symphonies....his opera Fidelio for example to me seems dry and I greatly prefer the Overtures to that there is nothing ambivalent about it...I simply prefer some works over I do just about all other composers....also ones tastes can change over time....what one time seemed novel and fresh now seems mundane with repeated does grow and change as the years go by...

The Tchaikovsky Research offering above gives a detailed account of the composers changing viewpoints in time on the subject of Beethoven....

Albert Gasparo

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