I forgot to mention this when we were on the Movie thread, that the
primary reason for Tchaikovsky's horrible showing at the movies (the
BioDrama's) is that you can't nail down a antagonist in his life. Just in
my very rudimentary contemplations of his life, it's hard to nail down
That weasel brother of his, (Modest)
His sexual proclivities?
I would be interested to hear from all of you regarding this, but you
get to pick ONE and ONLY ONE!
Difficult, eh? See the almost insurmountable problem?
Shaeffer was successful with "Amadeus" because he nailed Mozart's
nemesis down to...Salieri.
Who's my Salieri? Cui? people-- when it comes to plays/movies are very
In other words, the bad guy has to wear black and the good, guy, like
the Lone Ranger is dressed in white.
Just trying to nail him down... it's all so complicated, one thing of
which I'm certain. Is the man (Tchaikovsky) had a will of steel. nervous
breakdown? If we had to lift his burden on our shoulders, many-a knees
would have been quaking, I can tell you that!
So-- I'm confronted with what to do. I can write a script with CUI as
my Salieri-- but to people in the know-- (most of us!)-- they would say
it's a profound oversimplification. yet I'm writing a script NOT an
encylopedia! Don't have time for too many Salieri's.
Hope you weight-in on this, Mr. Gasparo. Just pick one, (of the above).
As always, I am much obliged for the opportunity to discuss and clarify
my opinions/thoughts on my favorite composer with people who think same.
To answer your question Mr Boyd..and your comments are always
entertaining...I admit that Amadeus was a fine movie...ruined somewhat by
making Mozart look like a simpleton whose only interest outside of music
was jokes scatological...Salieri in real life had nothing to do with
Mozart's death...it was simply a fabrication brought about I imagine
because Salieri was Mozart's rival at the court of Emperor Joseph
II...that was not Salieri's fault but the fault of the poor taste of the
court that favored a second rate composer over Mozart...if anything
Salieri admired Mozart's next to last opera "The Magic Flute" and praised
it...further more he helped in bringing up Mozart's two surviving
children...sure Salieri made good copy and a worthy rival to down trodden
Mozart...it was all about drama...good versus evil..but fake...as to
Salieri seducing Mozart's wife Costanza this was pure fiction...the movies
good parts was the direction, the photography and the holding of your
attention with all the good singing from his operas which were shown put
on stage...now I havent seen this in a long while put phony as it was it
beat by a mile all the other Tchaikovsky movies we have discussed so far.
There was enough truth in it to counter act the fabrications..as far as
Cui was concerned do you think he was such an important character in
Tchaikovsky's life...one lousy music critic?..unless you want to make him
one of course..Amadeus was a distortion of Mozart's life but a highly
entertaining one...the same cannot be said of the Tchaikovsky bios we have
discussed on this Forum...the long and short of it was that Schaeffer was
a good playwright and those others were poor script writers..I dont know
if this answers your question or not...now Tchaikovsky had no nemises as
such..he certainly had his share of successes and failures...esp
opera...so if you were going to look for a nemesis...its
character..character is our fate and destiny...as Shakespeare says in
Julius Caesar, "it is not in our stars but in our selves that we are
underlings.'''or words to that effect..Amadeus was make believe...but good
make believe...it held our attention from start to finish...now if you
want to make up a nemises for our composer that is up to you..its whatever
works Mr. Boyd...whatever works...T's nemesis...his sexual proclivities
for one..which held him back and went a long way in shaping his
character...his shyness for one thing...a secret he had to keep to
himself...that could be further searched and developed...
I do very much appreciate, Mr. Gasparo's notes on this thread. Finally,
for all to see/read, is the crux of the matter.
I do indeed, realize salieri was not IN REALITY, Mozart's nemesis.
However, for technical reasons, Schaeffer was forced to make it so.
It's just our composer had so many to chose from.
I don't think a writer, (or anyone for that matter) can exclusively
explain it away due to his sexuality. His shyness?... yes!... his
But, as I'm sure Schaeffer would tell us, "gentlemen-- you have to put
"flesh and blood" on a nemesis or antagonist, or it just dosen't work, nor
Thus my "Tchaikovsky conundrum"...
And besides his sexual preferences, what about his wife? Was she a
major antagonist in his, (Tchaikovsky's) journey?
I agree, I think solely blaming Cui would indeed come off as phoney and
contrived, (in any script). After all, as you say, he was a lowly critic,
but... a very powerful and influential one nonetheless. many a Broadway
show hasve been brought down because of a "lowly critic."
Thanks for your help.
I'l just go back to pulling my hair out! (Hahahahahah!)
Well Mr. Boyd, do you really need a nemesis? Isn't it our character
that is our destiny? Tchaikovsky in his last three symphonies touches upon
his encounter with fate or destiny, yet he doesn't say what this "Sword of
Democles" is regarding his fate. In the first two of these three
symphonies the composer comes out at the end in triumph as if he had
conquered this nemesis that had been harrowing him...In some reviews I've
read on his last symphony Tchaikovsky seems to indicate that one is
powerless in the face of fates unrelenting sway...all the downward motions
of his motifs in the last symphony represent this fate...yet as
Tchaikovsky himself said...yes the symphony has a program but let them
guess it who can....so Mr Boyd what is this fate that the composer is
alluding to that is so all encompassing....in the Pathetique's last
movement the composer seems to lie prostrate beneath its over weaning
power..David Brown's last volume of his biographies of the composer
underlines this the most...we know enough about his life even his intimate
life to give us some clue as to what this was all about...as for his wife,
Antonina, it is true that this encounter with her did have a deleterious
effect so much so that he would become ill should he receive a letter from
her...but all in all Tchaikovsky went on living his life with its ups and
downs as do the greater part of us...there were periods of
fallowness....are we to blame this on his wife with whom he had very few
encounters after their breakup?..some might....Antonina was a rather sad
pathetic figure who ended up her days in a mental institution...she had
three children after the breakup with the composer...she left them with a
foundling hospital where they did not survive...she was not able to
remarry as the composer refused to divorce her fearing a greater scandal
should his well kept secrets come to light...if I were a writer here's how
I would go about it....read as much about the composer's life and work as
possible...when you have completely imbued yourself with this
personage...forget about everything you've read and just think of those
issues that stand out most prominently in his life...since you have to
limit yourself select the most salient elements of his makeup and
character and take it from there...before you can write about anything you
must know the subject thoroughly....the rest will take care of itself...I
do not think it was poor Antonina that had a disruptive effect on the
composers life but the flaws as to his character.....still the two aided
and abetted one another...as per the Pathetique the most powerful
exposition of the power of fate is in the great climax of the first
movement where the downward scale of the strings is accompanied by the
trombones underlining this great calamity....it indicates that fate has
already won the battle...and so I will leave it like that.....
To answer Mr. Gasparo's first question. Conflict is the most vital
component to any piece of dramatic art, and I'm sorry if I sound mean or
condescending, But I can't have T. struggling against an opponent, called
"Fate " in any movie or play. It just, simply, won't wash.
What does "Fate" look like for eample?
Is he or she-- fat, slim? White/black? Gay/Straight.... a true Nemesis
of antagonist has to be, (please pardon em for Writing Course 101), Bigger
then life, seeemingly invincible. (The most obvious example being Darth
Vader of Shaeffer's... Salieri). Someone out there(Tchaikovsky) can
quickly dispatch and stand triumphant, (like "ROCKY" the end).
And yes, I am fully aware that Pyotr was preoccupied with "Fate."
Pyotr's not to be trusted either. Let's not forget this is teh guy that
married a woman because her actions mirrored a fictitous character in an
opera. He wasn't fighting "fate." That may have been his war-- NOT his
battle. And, sir, if you've studied Pyotr's cahracter a little bit, you
would realize he was not one to simply wash his hands and resigne himself
to "Fate. He was a fighter! When are peopel on these pages, goinf to get
thet through their thick skulls. Pyotr Tchaikovsky was a warrior, tough as
nails! (Thank God for him!). "Oh, let me swallow the water and die, Fate
will take over." That's no the Pyotr Tchaikovsky I know.
His piano Concerto's not good enough.
He writes another gem! (Maybe they'll get it this time-- Rubenstein,
Mr. Gaspero, I appeal to your common sense, with all these so-called
friends of Pyotr's-- does he need an enema? (Hahahah!)
YEt.. they were all such good "friends" the writers on this site,
Pyotr loathed 1812-- published it anyway!
Pyotr Tchaikovsky, after all is said and done, was all about you and
I-- the audience. What truly makes me sad, that even AFTER New York and
Cambridge how could he possible have thought he failed us? I think he died
thinking himself a failure. (Impossible, " your going to reply. Hey! I
point to the above example, (his marriage) Anything's possible with this
All this crap about "fate," I suggest, was Pyotr's ruse. He was so
accostumed to putting people off the scent that, again, I suggest, it was
his second nature.
In the end, I think it's all the things I mentioned in my previous
note, (and more, I bet, if you look closelyly). His (T's) ultimate battle
I surmise, was against himself. Can't have that on stage unless I lie and
make Tchaikovsky have an identical twin! (Hahahahah!) they already had a
set of twins in that family. To tell you the truth, Mr. Gaspero, (why
haven't the others jumped in on this thread? Too difficult forgot-- I am
SO pedestrian!). I don't trust that Modest either, whom I've much maligned
in these pages, as I'm sure you'll note. If anyone was to poison Pyotr, it
Finally-- if there is to be a drama-- let there be a world war, some
humongous conflict! The bigger the conflict, the more the success th
piece. Listen to Pyotr himself, (Romeo & Juliet) "Fate," does absolutely
nothing for me as a dramaturg, (I need something substantial, something
tactile). "Fate," as an antagonist would produce the same feeling in you
on Opening night, (trust me!). I know he complained of hearing non-stop,
music in his hed as a child. I can easily make his nemesis, (a mental
disorder-- His attempted suiide etc.)-- but Vincent vanGogh has already
been done. Be there, done that.
Thanks for the help!
P.S.: I'm getting good at this hair-pulling business, Mr. Gasparo! (Hahahahah!)
P.P.S: I love this site! It's the best. Where can I buy a T-shirt
?(sorry, I also drink beer! and love the Montreal Canadiens)
Mr Boyd , I would be the first to agree with you that "conflict" or
drama as I would call it is a vital ingredient to a movie or play...but
let's review this "fate" once again...T wrote his most powerful music to
the power of fate in his life i.e. the Pathetique....but doesn't explain
it...fate was a recurring issue in his music aside from the last three
symphonies..and if as in his last work he makes this the all encompassing
element of the work then we must listen...however this by itself will not
produce good dramaturgy...I am not a dramatist or a drama critic tho I
have read my fair share of plays in my day..but why does this theme keep
recurring?...what is fate...."a power that supposedly predetermines
events"...from the Latin, "Fatum"...that which has been spoken"..(.from my
dictionary)...the Fourth Symphony begins with fates call in the horns...as
T writes to Madame von Meck.."Destiny, that fateful force which impedes
the impulse toward fulfillment, which jealously ensures that prosperity
and peace are never complete and cloudless, which hangs overhead like a
sword of Damocles..it is invincible and you will never vanquish it..all
that we can do is subject ourselves and vainly lament"...but the symphony
ends in a joyful manner...there T writes "Go among the people. see how
they understand how to be happy. but no sooner have you forgotten yourself
in contemplation of the joys of others than Fate returns to remind
you"....yet Beethoven said that he would "grasp fate by the throat" at the
time he grew deaf..tho even he himself had thoughts of committing suicide
when it hit him that his most valuable asset, his hearing was now in
jeopardy..Fate by itself does nothing for the drama of unfolding his life
unless we knew what this unrelenting destiny was that confronted him...but
its a clue...as for Modest whatever you want to say about him he was the
composers closest confidant...was there a rivalry between the
two?...possibly Modest was envious of his brothers far greater fame..but
having said that lets remember that Modest himself wrote a three volume
biography on his famous brother and helped found the Tchaikovsky Museum as
well as write the librettos of the composers last two operas...I myself am
stymied as to how to write a bio drama on the composer...if I knew of a
good one I would probably do it myself....there is one thing from which we
can never escape....ourselves...let us go to the most quiet corner of
nature, we would still carry our flaws with us...as I said our character
is our destiny from which there is no escape but in death..and so this
destiny is part of our being and what we are "rough hew it as we
will"...we can always leave a nasty environment if we are lucky...but
ourselves ...never..."The slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune"...pursue us with unrelenting persistence... So we have the
ineptitudes of our character that impede us from reaching our
potential...sexual proclivities, that certainly is a destiny.....about
which we can do little...then the secrecy and the need to constantly hide
this side of ones character...why arent you married, why dont you have
kids,...questions and inquiries that need to be constantly
parried...that's not much to go by....like any artist it takes time to be
appreciated if one is ever appreciated...think of all the thousands of
composers one never hears about..yes there are thousands even in
America..or hears a performance one time and not again...but this cannot
be said of our composer....whose fame grew ever more so over
time.....aside from Von Mecks assistance the Czar presented him with an
honorium..many of his operas did not take off and still dont outside of
russia...many of his compositions did not become part of the
repertory...why only two years before his death Tchaikovsky felt he was
played out...and told an interviewer he planned to retire from composition
in 1896 and devout himself to gardening....but with the advent of the "Pathetique"
his spirits were rejuvenated...he said of this composition..."This is the
best piece I have ever written or ever shall write."....I'm assuming then
that when 1896 came around and he felt the same way he would still
continue with his composing...as it was he had a successful career...at
his death he was the third most famous man in Russia after the Czar and
Tolstoy.....perhaps he was bipolar and this helps exclaim his depressed
moods..but Mr Boyd that is for you discover and unfold...and being
hypersensitive as we have discussed in these posts was no help in boosting
his self cofidence..in writing about Tchaikovsky there are certain
elements that should be included....his early childhood experience of
hearing music in his head long after the ball that took place....his
attachment to his mother....holding the wheels of her carriage as she
left....his gradual introduction to classical music, being it in opera,
Mozart etc....determination at age 22, 1862 to devout his life to music
upon entering St Petersburg..possible homosexual experience at the school
of jusrisprudence earlier...his career as professor of harmony in
Moscow...his fateful encounters with Madame von Meck and shortly after
with his wife to be Antonina...his flight from Moscow and the end of his
teaching career thanks to von Meck's largess....Just some ideas as how to
proceed with the subject...a few years ago Steve Warren presented us wth a
play about Tchaikovsky which he was had troubleing getting produced and
asked the Forum if they could help a short time ago a composer came
forward with an opera on Tchaikovsky and asked if the Forum could
help...it was written with what he thought was Tchaikovsky's style.....he
was able to produce it on the college level with piano accompiniment.....not
what he would have preferrred.....these are some of the issues in getting
an opera or play produced...if your not a known name its tough.....