My Love Tchaikovsky!

Written by Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano; © (2017)

I may have read it somewhere but last night the following phrase kept buzzing in my head: Tchaikovsky? Was he a tortured soul who poured out his immortal longings into dignified passages of stately music? Not only am I a real fan of Tchaikovsky‘s symphonies but I love him and his music the way it is. The opera Eugene Onegin is, for example, one of my favorites together with Tosca which Donna Leon described as “a tawdry little pot-boiler I wouldn’t cross the street to see.” I may not have taste and Donna Leon is a witch!

However, I have recently been thinking that if Tchaikovsky were alive today he would not be writing symphonies. He would be using our modern mediums given that he was modern in his time. I am sure that he would disapprove of our “the old way is best” mentality. In addition, a friend of mine introduced me to the French composer Olivier-Eugène-Prosper-Charles Messiaen. When listening to Tchaikovsky‘s fifth symphony with its sad, yet ultimately hopeful and triumphant recurring theme, and to Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time with its quirky yet deeply moving depiction of the Second Coming, both can speak to one’s heart.

What could be said when comparing Brahms and Tchaikovsky for their hearts and minds?

Brahms could be defined as virtually impenetrable and inspiring little emotional response. Tchaikovsky is by contrast “too simple” with his appeal to the heart being very straightforward and accessible to musical children of all ages – like myself. However, I rather suspect that if I had lived in 1870 I would hate Tchaikovsky without ever having listened to him and I would be complaining that nothing measures up to Vivaldi. There are great composers in every era.

Finally, I think that tomorrow I will stump the bartenders at Starbucks and order my “cold rubble cup of tea.” Then when they huddle together to decide what manner of drink this is, I will blithely suggest that they should not make this a storm in a teacup. Yes! I will leave taking satisfaction that I have created a disturbance in the millennial force.

Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano
Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano

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