Tchaikovsky has studied flute in the class with Ciardi, at the St.
Petersburg Conservatory. Tchaikovsky it became his friend and accompanied
him at times as a pianist, in live performance:
Ciardi you have defined one of the biggest flutists of his century,
perhaps the biggest.
Tchaikovsky wrote many pieces of great beauty for flute, and we know
the project about a concerto for the instrument.
Do you know for how long Tchaikovsky has studied the flute and what was
his real skills on the instrument?
All I can recall off hand is that Tchaikovsky learned to play the flute
in order to play in the school orchestra at the St. Petersburg
conservatory...his father also played the flute...and his mother the piano
and sang...in those days you had to create your own entertainment...pre
phonograph and radio...
And as far as I know his flute playing did not extend beyond his time
at conservatory in Petersburg...1865...
I answer to my own question with this information I hope useful to fans
of the argument.
"Tchaikovsky he studied flute for two years, reaching a level of
preparation discreet. Rather, as reported by Leonardo De Lorenzo, in his
truly original book "My complete story of the Flute" (Texas Tech
University Press, Lubbock, 1992, p. 282 ), he played the flute
beautifully, and would also have much loved this musical instrument".
(Rossella Fabbri, "Cesare Ciardi. Un flautista toscano alla corte dello
Zar", Libreria Musicale Italiana, Lucca 1999, p. 52)
Fabbri also writes (I summarize) that Rubinstein he called as a teacher
Ciardi, for the chair of flute. Rubinstein himself had organized the
curriculum that each student had to do. The students had to participate in
the training of staff of the orchestra of the Conservatory. Abounded the
students of string instruments, while those were scarce of wind
instruments. Rubinstein suggested to a group of pupils in the course of
composition and piano, to also study a wind instrument.
Tchaikovsky, who was enrolled in the class composition, having been
exonerated for excellence the study of piano and (in the absence of
financial resources), he was persuaded by scholarships, to enroll in the
flute (also his father played this instrument as an amateur ).
Ciardi and Tchaikovsky socialized for several years.
Fabbri, citing David Brown (1978) and Alja Rachmanova (1972) says that
Tchaikovsky performed in public as a flautist, both in concerts of the
Conservatory, and in small ensembles, and he seems to have also
participated in the execution of a quartet flute written by Kuhlau, in the
presence of Clara Schumann.
Brown in "Tchaikovsky, The Early Years ..." (I always quote from Fabbri,
p. 53) also reports news about a performance of Tchaikovsky together with
Ciardi, Piotr Ilyich at the piano, in an evening of music by the Grand
Duchess Elena Pavlova.
Many biographers write details about the studies of flute made by
Tchaikovsky (J. M. Orlova, "Tschaikowski", 1978).
"In the special book, though not always reliable, made by Fortunato
Sconzo,"Il Flauto ed i Flautisti", (Hoepli, Milan 1930, p. 139), on the
biographies of the most famous flutists is also included the name of
Melodramatic extremely original, author of treatises on harmony, and
teacher at the Moscow Conservatory, he studied flute with our great Ciardi,
at the Conservatory of St. Petersburg".
In the book made by Rossella Fabbri speaks of the importance of Ciardi,
as the teacher, as a theorist and European performer and teacher for the
Russian school of flute.
Ciardi was born June 28, 1818 in Florence, the first son of an obscure
little seamstress and a young painter from Prato, Giuseppe Ciardi.
The couple would have had more children, the last two they too they
Giulio, violin (but abandoned him for an ecclesiastical career),
Attilio (1834) after completing his studies in Florence piano and
composition, he performed in a duo with his brother Cesare. He became a
teacher and composer.
(from the book written by Rossella Fabbri)
A street in the city of Prato, since 1951, remembers him (but does not
exist instead a dedication for the most famous flautist his brother,
Kind regards (and excuse my english and typing errors).
In the article on
Aleksandr Khimichenko in the People
section of this website there is an interesting extract from Khimichenko’s
reminiscences of Tchaikovsky which testifies to the composer’s lifelong
interest in the flute and to its possibilities as an instrument.
Let me add something else to this discussion...the heyday of the flute
would have been in the time of Bach or Handel....Mozart also wrote a few
pieces for flute or where the flute played a dominant role but after
Mozart who are the composers who wrote specific pieces for the flute let
alone masterpieces?...the flute was pretty much a forgotten instrument,
composers specialized in works for violin or piano...or chamber works
featuring strings and piano...some like Brahms wrote chamber works for
clarinet....Mozart a concerto for clarinet....but it pretty much stops
there..a few years ago we had a flutist James Galway play on public
broadcasting...with orchestra accompaniment...virtually everything he
played were transcriptions from some other instruments.....the flute plays
a role in the orchestra..that's about it...later composers like Debussy
wrote pieces in which the flute plays a prominent role...but it never
regained its renown as of old....certainly in Tchaikovsky's time the flute
was relegated to the orchestra...and there it remained....so you give
praise to this or that flautist yet where are the masterworks for that
instrumentalist to play?...