I of course refer to Balakirev, Cui, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and
Presently, I am pondering this group and why en masse, they seemed to
have strongly (perhaps wrong word-- “vehemently” might be more accurate)--
opposed Tchaikovsky. I am confused as to their motive(s). And as far as I
can see/read, no one has really nailed it down.
1) Was it Tchaikovsky’s style that so offended them? (“Not Russian
enough!”) I think that was the impetus for his Symphony No. 2. After all,
it is called, “The Little Russian.”
2) Pure artistic jealousy? Were they jealous of the man’s obvious and
ample genius? (This does happen.)
3) His popularity with the students at the Conservatoire? Antonina
Milukova being the most prominent, of course, but let’s not forget the
“Fourth Suite.” (“Fourth Concerto?” You know-- the flock of young men who
always appeared to be in his entourage. Correct me somebody!)
4) Homophobia? (We can go hours on that one!)
Or was it a combination of all of the above, (and maybe even more).
Maybe I’m trying to over-simplify and put it down to ONE and ONE reason
only. But the sheer contempt, disgust and snobbism of the Mighty Five to
our man-- cannot be dismissed.
Although in one of those silly movies, (I know! “Been there, done that,
George! (Hahahahahah!)) They had Cesar Cui, (I think it was) going around
singing Tchaikovsky’s praises to all who would listen, esp., von Meck!
I would very much like to read forum contributor’s thoughts on this
And am I correct in thinking that Cui, (despite movie mentioned above)
was Tchaikovsky’s worst enemy?
(Privately I call him “Pit Bull Cesar!” (Hahahahahah!) Nice dog!))
I know he skewered him in several reviews. But then again, as they say,
if you can’t “do”--
And if you can’t “teach,”-- become a “critic.”
Cui was both, (I think! (Hahahahahah!)).
In any event, regards to all and hope you can lend a hand/thought to
P.S.: Just shows you how strong-willed and secure, (no “mincing” here)
Tchaikovsky was in taking on these old battle-axes. Which one, (of “The
Five”) told him Piano Concerto No. 1 was “vulgar” and had to be totally
re-written? There’s a word for people like these, but censorship and good
George, it doesn't look like you've read the articles on those five
composers in our People section, which
might change your views a little! You're quite right about
Cui, he was Tchaikovsky's fiercest
critic, but on the other hand
Balakirev was one of his biggest champions, encouraging him to write
Romeo and Juliet, and the Manfred symphony.
early career was helped by Tchaikovsky's favourable newspaper article
reviews, although there was undoubtedly some jealousy on R-K's part.
And as for the fierce critic of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto —
this was Nikolay Rubinstein,
one of his best friends, and nothing to do with "The Five" at all!
Tchaikovsky had a classical western education in music..he was
influenced by composers like Schumann, Liszt, Berlioz, Wagner and of
course his idol Mozart and those of more light weight. Not to speak of the
melodic invention of the Bel Canto....The mighty five wanted to break away
from the western tradition of musical and sonata form and go out on a
different tangent...So they critisized Tchaikovsky for being too
westernized..they wanted a purely Russian sound and wished to break away
from western norms..they wanted to emphasize the Russian folk
element...Tchaikovsky himself used many Russian folk motifs at least in
his early music....Cui indeed was the most critical and least talented of
the bunch but he did have a good relationship with Balakirev...he was
closest to Rimsky Korsakov whom he helped in mastering counterpoint via
the mails....so their objectives were dissimilar..nor was his relationship
with Borodin negative.Tchaikovsky himself didn't have much use for the
five considering them musically ignorant...he admired somewhat Musorgsky
for his originality yet saw something ugly and primitive in his
expression..let us not forget that he learned French at an early age as
most upper class Russians...that he himself on his mother's side was in
part French and German..so in that alone he was pretty much
Europeanized....that pretty much sums up the Five and Tchaikovsky.....
I would also like emphasize the matter of living in different
cities...after 1865 Tchaikovsky no longer lived in Petersburg,,,,,the home
base of the five...and so from that perspective alone these two factions
were distanced...Tchaikovsky living and earning his living in Moscow at
least until 1877...thereafter he only paid occasional visits to the
capitals..living in the country side or traveling to foreign
countries,,,so these two factions had little contact with each other in
terms of influencing one another...
Thanks for your instruction...
As usual, I found Monsieur Gasparo's insight and intelligence-- very
As for Monsieur Langston's corrections-- thanks.
Now I really know who the a__hole was!!
Nickolai Rubinstein was a noted pianist and conductor.as well as being
the founder of the Moscow Conservatory as well as the junior brother of
more famous Anton Rubinstein the founder of the St Petersburg
Conservatory...it was he who invited Tchaikovsky to teach Harmony at
Moscow no sooner had the composer graduated from the Petersburg
Conservatory in 1865....so he must have been aware of the composers
nascent talents...Nickolai also helped him find living quarters and
contributed clothing for the money poor composer..more importantly as long
as he lived he was an ardent supporter of the growing fame of Tchaikovsky
and did a lot in giving the premiers of what ever the composer produced in
those early years as long as he lived...he died in 1881 at age 46...in his
death Tchaikovsky lost a valuable patron not to be replaced....the Piano
Trio is dedicated to his memory...
As for the other thing where Tchaikovsky asked for Rubinstein's opinion
of his First Piano Concerto in December of 1974,,,it is true that Nickolai
was at first critical of the concerto perhaps with reason..remember that
the version we hear now is the revised one made in 1889....but he later
retracted his views and was one of the concerto's chief supporters...it
was a temporary break in their relationship and nothing more..and the
Second Piano Concerto is dedicated to him....later Nickolai was to conduct
the premiere of Oneigin...he also did a lot to advance the cause of the
Russian Five even if he disagreed with his brother over the issue...so in
retrospect Nickolai Rubinstein did much to advance Tchaikovsky's