Welcome to the Inside Chamber Music Podcast presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. I'm Bruce Adolphe, resident lecturer at CMS, where I started the lecture series in 1992. In 2011, we began livestreaming the lectures on our website. The audio for this podcast comes from the ever growing archive of videos made available live and on demand ChamberMusicSociety.org.
We look at the music from a compositional perspective and find parallels in novels, plays and poetry. Plus, we explore historical context and with live musicians in the studio during the lectures, we experiment with performance issues.
Today's podcast of Inside Chamber Music features Tchaikovsky's String Quartet Number three in E-flat minor, Opus Three, performed by the Ralston String Quartet. We originally recorded this on February nine, 2022. Thank you. Good evening. Last time last week I was talking about sonata form and legal issues and courtroom procedure. I'm not doing that this time, but I am going to prove something to you.
I'm going to use some arguments to try to make a point that in a way is like a courtroom situation, because I'm going to be presenting evidence to a theory I have about this piece when I agree to give a lecture on a particular piece because it's being performed in the season. I don't necessarily plan ahead what my approach is going to be, depending if I know the piece or how well, my experience with it.
In the case of this Tchaikovsky Quartet, I thought I would do what I would normally do. I'd look at the harmony and the melody and the structure, but I usually go overboard in my in my preparation because I don't like to not know something about something that I'm going to say something about. So I'm reading all of Tchaikovsky's letters and all these things that don't pertain to this piece.
But then I found something that I think does very much so, and it led me to a theory which I'm going to use as the basis of this talk. So I'm going to try to prove something and there will be an opportunity for you to refute it probably six or seven months from now when everything's fine. Okay, so let's just hear the very opening of this piece to set the mood.
And this is not the opening of the first movement. We're going to be looking at the third movement, which was originally the second movement, similarly to the way Chopin's Second Piano Concerto was his first piano concerto. But let's not go overboard here. So here is the funeral movement opening. (music) Yes, that's the opening. You know, you might have at the first sound been a little bit taken aback by how big and strange it is because their instruments are wearing mute.
They have mutes on. This is a strange thing that Tchaikovsky asked for. I think it's very powerful to have a funeral movement, a memorial movement that has loud, passionate music with a mute on. That's very often how people, it's, psychologically, is how people will feel confronting grief with a sense of being locked in emotionally at the same time as trying to express something very powerful.
It's a brilliant concept. Would you mind playing the same thing with the mutes off just so we can remind ourselves of what that would sound like? (music) Great, great. It's quite different, especially when the violin breaks loose and you really hear the tamber. It's less volume than tamber that it's very powerful. Mutes back.
Now, I said it was a funeral movement. It's about grief and mourning. Who is it for? It's dedicated, it says right in the music, to Ferdinand Laub, L-A-U-B. And the question that led me to this theory that I asked myself was this Did Tchaikovsky write this in memory of Laub or about Laub? In other words, if he had written this a string quartet in the memory of someone else, even another violinist, would it have been the same piece, or is this actually about Ferdinand Laub?
And what amazed me it is about Ferdinand Laub in ways that I have not seen written about anywhere in the Tchaikovsky literature. They only say one thing about this piece all the time. They say that the chant that occurs in the second violin on one note is probably a reference to Russian Orthodox religious chant funeral movement.
It's one note. Maybe we should hear just that one note a little bit. Pick any of those. (music) It occurs quite a lot and it brings you to one quiet still place, a still point. And it's very effective and it probably is related to chant, but that's all is that you can find in any book about this. So I'll give you a hint of where it's going, and then we'll start to do one thing at a time.
But first, who was Ferdinand Laub? More than what I said. He was not only a violinist, he was a composer and a very close friend of Tchaikovsky. So before I get into this more, I think he should hear a little bit of his own music. And not only his own music, but his elegy for violin and piano. We'll hear just a little bit of it, because this is also a funeral piece.
We don't know why he wrote this one. It also was a thing Russians do and there are all kinds of sadness built into the culture. I don't want to get into a whole thing about this and get canceled over it. But, basically, and I don't mean to make light of cancelation either.
No, but what I'm saying is that the elegy, in this case, is probably just because he felt like writing an elegy for violin. It's a wonderful mood for music. And not every piece of music is based on a real life situation that the composer is aware of. In this case, Tchaikovsky was definitely aware. Let's hear a little bit of this elegy for violin and piano and I mean, just a little bit.
But I think it would give you a very good idea. Who'd like to play it? Okay. Yeah, totally spontaneous. Okay. (music) We're going to stop there. Thank you. It's the music of a violinist, obviously. It's lovely. It's obviously around the same time that Tchaikovsky was writing. It has actually some things in common with Tchaikovsky. One thing I want to point out is that it does something that a lot of elegies do, but without... it does it in a timid way, which is to have a note that is like a pedal point.
It's like an organ point. It stays there while it moves around it. (music) Like that. But in the Tchaikovsky, which you already heard the opening of, when he does it, it's painful. Let's just hear the first phrase of the Tchaikovsky again. Let's say just the first three bars. (music) Right. Thank you. And it's the second chord after you have the, the key is E-flat minor.
The first chord is E-flat minor. But it's actually a little bit unusual because the E-flat is not in the bass like this. (music) Like you would expect. It's like this. Small, subtle thing, but this is a string quartet. This is chamber music. That's what it's all about. Subtlety is a huge thing. Where the voices fall and the instruments really makes a huge difference.
This not having the E-flat in the bottom does several things. It makes you want that E-flat, whether you know it or not, you're waiting for it to come. But you also feel like the first chord is unstable. It's not like a rock, that is how you might feel thinking about mourning or grief. It might be how you feel going to a service just like this is a kind of service.
So this (music). And the other thing he does is instead of the rhythm, it's on the beat. Instead of like this, one, two, three, it's one, two, three, it's on the beat. And that becomes more and more obvious as other things happen. And the second chord we have the dissonance on top of the B-flat, it stays there, the pedal tune in the chord underneath it.
If that were in the bottom, which is more traditional, it wouldn't be quite as serious. Like it would still be painful, but it would be a little more traditional. So you wouldn't quite feel the anxiety. The next thing I want to look at in this piece of Tchaikovsky, and then I'll get to my theory, which I still haven't told you what it is, is this second theme. Now, in most memorial or funeral pieces, almost all of them, like the Eroica Symphony, the the slow movement of that, Chopin famous funeral movement of the B-flat minor Sonata.
Wagner, they almost always, in the cases I mentioned, all of them start in minor and they're gloomy and dark and a little dissonant, and then they open up and they're beautiful. Schumann too. Piano quintet. And then it comes back again. So the form, though, is that there's always an opening up of beauty, and part of it is it would be unbearable.
Otherwise it's a piece of music. But the other part is that's how we are. Let's say you go to a memorial service and some one is speaking and you feel the grief and you feel the torment. But then you start thinking and your mind wanders and you're thinking of this person in wonderful ways. Your memory of the person comes back.
Maybe someone's making a speech like that. They get up and say, "Let's celebrate their life instead of mourning." And they say all these things and you feel wonderful. And then it comes back by the end. That's exactly what all these pieces do. So that is beautiful in this piece. It's not unusual, but it's gorgeously done. So let's hear a little bit of that beautiful section starting at bar ten. (Music)
Wait a minute. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say bar ten. You must have been shocked. It looks like bar forty. They don't know me very well. So they did exactly what I said instead of saying, "Are you sure it's bar ten?" Okay. Okay, go ahead. (music) Now we're in a transition. And I mean, this is long, gorgeous Tchaikovsky kind of tune.
In fact, it's exactly a Tchaikovsky kind of tune. Now, my theory has to do with, I'm looking at this piece, I'm thinking, "What do I say to people about this piece?" It's so beautiful. Who's going to say, "I don't understand it. "You know, it's gorgeous. The painful parts are painful. The beautiful part is extremely beautiful. From reading the letters and I come across the following statement.
First of all, you should know before I even read this, that Tchaikovsky, it's well known that he was obsessed with Mozart. Many, many, many, I think there are 85 letters in which he goes on about Mozart to various people. He also wrote a piece called Mozartiana, in which he kind of messes up some beautiful pieces by Mozart.
But with love. With love. And there are obviously times when it was very popular too. I don't know why he would put a cymbal crashing a silence. But that was the... never mind. I'm not talking about that piece. So here are two short notes from Tchaikovsky. "Among the best parts of the opera, which is Don Giovanni.
I would like to mention the finale of Act One, the scene by the Commendatore's tomb, the sextet in Act Two, which is remarkable for the comic contrast between La Barella dressed in Don Giovanni's clothes and the other characters who take him for his master. And finally, the famous last scene between Don Giovanni and the Commendatore statue." That's one letter. That is not going to tell you the theory yet.
Here's the letter that really matters. "In Mozart's Chamber music, he captivates one by the charm and purity of his style, by the amazing beauty of his voice leading. But sometimes one does come across things which brings tears to your eyes. I would like to point out to you the adagio from the G minor quintet of Mozart. Nobody before or after has expressed so beautifully in music feelings of resigned, helpless grief.
When Ferdinand Laub played this adagio, I would always hide in the remotest corner of the hall, so no one would see the effect that this music had on me." Okay, so I read this letter and I see that Ferdinand Loeb is referred to as having given a gorgeous performance of the Mozart. What's the next step? Take a look at the Mozart to see if maybe there's a relationship between that Mozart and what he wrote.
Nobody has done that. And there is. There's a lot. So this is actually a reveal, as they say in, I'm not sure musicologists say that, actually, but it's very appropriate for this piece. So it turns out there's a lot. But before I even get to that, Mozart has an effect on Tchaikovsky all the time. So I want to give two examples of how Mozart affected this piece before I get to the real connection between the G minor quintet Adagio that Ferdinand Laub played so beautifully, and this piece dedicated to Ferdinand Laub.
So before I do that, he mentions Don Giovanni, the Comandatore scene. That does have in it the kind of dissonance with one note repeated that we, quite a lot, that we heard at the beginning of the Tchaikovsky. So I'm going to ask our cellist to sing the part. I mean, to play the part of Comandatore. I was going to sing it for you, but now you're actually here instead of at home, I'm not going to do that.
So I'll play the orchestra part and he'll play the repeated A that Comandatore sings. (music) So right there we actually have... And then that's exactly like what what Tchaikovsky does. But Mozart does this a lot. Remember, that's a scene about death. It's in a graveyard. Here's another piece of Mozart about death. This is the one he wrote after his mother died.
I'm just going to play four bars. Got it? So once again, it's exactly the same thing. It is in the bass. Tchaikovsky did... Mozart never did that, but it kind of did it in the Don Giovanni because even though he's low and the notes are higher in the violins, he's the singer. So it does stand out as being extremely powerful, almost like it's in the top.
So Mozart's done that quite a bit. Let's hear some of the Mozart for a moment. But you know what? I'm really into the legal stuff right now because my daughter is going to go to law school. So I thought, well, wait a minute, I can't just argue for this. I want to argue that he might be influenced by something else.
So in that tune that you just heard, we heard this passage. (music) I'll repeat this little phrase. Now, I think I'm going to play this by Chopin. (music) And the opening of this Chopin, same movement. It's the funeral movement. There. Now, that's a B-flat too. B-flat seems to be a really popular note because in the exact same line. And I'm sure that Tchaikovsky did not know this piece.
He did know the Chopin for sure. He did not know the Le Gibet from Gaspard De Nuit of Ravel, which also has B-flats, is also about death and also has them sitting there in the top. Very similar. Of course, maybe he knew the Chopin and the Tchaikovsky. Very possible. Very likely. All right. But back now to the Mozart for a moment.
There are a couple of things. Let's start in the Mozart Quintet. Now, the Mozart is a quintet, so I'm going to play occasionally the second viola and the piano. Let's hear from bar 18 where that sforzando piano begins. (music)
Now that has a couple of things that are in the Mozart. One, we have these repeated B flats and we do have essentially the same kind of dissonance with the B flat in the bass. In fact, at the end of the Tchaikovsky, it's even closer. Let's take a look at the end of the Tchaikovsky. The very end, not the very, very end. Bar 99, one before 100. (music)
Okay. That's enough right there. There are the same two harmonies and it is in the bass and its repeated note just like that. But I, as second viola, I play this. Now if we take a look in the Tchaikovsky where the big tune begins, our attention is drawn to the big melody. But the viola is very, very active here.
Could you play the first couple of notes that the viola plays? Just the first few minutes. Maybe they're at bar ten. Oh, no, sorry, 40. It's 40 again. Bar 40. The Mozart went (singing) (music) Tchaikovsky. (inaudible) Okay, stop. And what happens though? The viola starts on the same two notes and a whole new idea begins.
But that idea is in the Mozart too. Can you play some of that? Just you for a moment. (music) Okay, now let's hear everybody in the Tchaikovsky starting at 40, just for a few bars. Okay, great. Thank you. Now, let's hear what goes on in the first violin in the Mozart 24, 25, 26 at bar 27. (music) Right.
Okay. And that passage that (singing) is what the viola is doing all over the place in the Tchaikovsky, starting from those same three notes. But opening into this pattern that occurs several times in the Mozart. Are you with me? See now, one, the side effect of this presentation is that you're going to be listening extremely carefully to this Tchaikovsky, which makes me happy.
But I mean, in other words, every little thing that's going on has a relationship to this Mozart. I really feel this way, and I can't do one the beyond the shadow of a doubt thing like I did in the other thing. That, there was no question in the Mozart. This is a preponderance of evidence and I'm still getting there.
So the tune itself, which the second part of the Tchaikovsky tune after... (singing) We hear this and then this passage. (music) If you invert that in major instead of... (singing)
Can we hear the opening of the Mozart please? I really feel like (inaudible). (music) Okay. So so far we've shown that Mozart in general this piece even more than most, but Mozart in general, like in Don Giovanni. And that piano sonata often has a pedal point with a strong dissonance against it. When he's talking about death.
Now, you could say pedal points are often about death, and you'd be right, but they're also often about heaven or God or anything eternal or about nothing. I mean, that's an argument I don't want to go into, because you could also argue that nothing is about eternity and God. And so let's not let's not go there. But the pedal point concept is that something inexorable is happening, something that the rest of the music cannot get away from.
All the other music that is not the pedal note, the note that stays, has to be dissonant to it or resolve into it. That's all it is. It's an inexorable musical phenomenon. So it works very well for death. But Mozart uses it a lot, very clearly over and over to mean death. So Tchaikovsky's use of it and his obsession with Mozart, his reference to that scene in Don Giovanni and his reference to Laud playing this.
I'm getting somewhere with this argument. Right? Okay. It's all beginning to hold together. Now, even the tune the violin played, it has that (singing) which is all over the Tchaikovsky, but it also has this syncopation. There's another little motific aspect of the Tchaikovsky, which is whenever there's a transition, it does this. (music) Except that would be in this key.
Whereas the Mozart was in D naturals, you have (singing) and here we have (singing) inverted. So twice there are things that are inverted. They're going in the opposite direction. Let's hear that. This one may seem small, but I'm compiling a long list. And when the list is done, every phrase of the Mozart has some impact on this piece.
So let's hear now bar 59 from the Tchaikovsky. And listen primarily to the first violin syncopation. (music) Okay, great, great, great. We went past the syncopation, which also is in the second violin. But one reason I wanted them to go past so I didn't stop them is that what happens right after that is the violin keeps going with this kind of outcry that is also in the Mozart.
But in Mozart, it's sweet. But that same configuration, while they play, just three of them, the four voices that they played at the opening, how does he do that? This is very good string writing. Basically the second violin and the viola are playing double stops, two notes at a time. Let me just hear, without the first violin, bar 61, and you'll hear that they're basically playing what all four of them played before, but Tchaikovsky has worked it into only three instruments. (music)
Okay, great. You see, that's quite amazing that he probably thought when he wrote the opening, he might not have thought that he was going to need to do that. Who knows? And then he thought, "I've got to have the first violin to keep going." And luckily he knows what he's doing.
So he thought, "I can compact that." When you compact something that was four more voices and make it smaller and smaller, it becomes more amazing. I happen to think that when somebody takes a piano work and orchestrates it, unless it's Ravel, it tends to dilute some of its magic because what can be done on a keyboard suddenly being played on strings, for example, doesn't make it easier to hear.
It just makes it diffuse. To me. But when something is done with fewer instruments, it becomes incredibly powerful. It's kind of a compression and you feel like it could explode, which is the perfect music to do that in. Now by the way, we've talked a lot about Ferdinand Laub, how beautifully he played, especially how beautifully he played the the Mozart adagio that Tchaikovsky refers to.
So he's died at age 43. And Tchaikovsky was very upset and so were all his colleagues and many other people. Then who played this quartet? Because it was Ferdinand Laub, who was the first violinist of this quartet at the Moscow Conservatory, and he premiered as first violinist, Tchaikovsky's first and second string quartet. So with him dead and this piece being dedicated to his memory, the first violinist was his son in law, whom you all know because you probably practiced his scale book. Who wrote a scale book for violin? (inaudible) Who else? Hrimaly?
Yeah. Now, Hrimaly is supposed to be said Hrimaly. Hrimaly. No R. He's Hrimaly. Because it's Czech. But we all say Hrimaly because we don't know what we're talking about. That's the American way. So we say Hrimaly. Almost every violinist- have you both actually, did you ever looking for Hrimaly's scales?
You did, yeah. Yeah. It's almost inevitable. I don't know how he got away with a book that's just basically writing out scales and publishing that and having every violinist in the world buy it. But anyway, he was a great violinist and he was the son in law of Ferdinand Laub. So he got his position in the quartet and his position in the conservatory, which he would have had probably anyway, because he was being brought in as a violinist, as well as a son in law. Who played second violin? A much more famous person, actually.
Well at the conservatory there was also, and this isn't the answer, Leopold Auer. That's not who played second violin. Leopold Auer was a close friend of Tchaikovsky's. Violinists all knew Leopold Auer and Tchaikovsky wrote his violin concerto for Leopold Auer who looked at it and said, "I can't play. This is ridiculous. Nobody can play this. I'm not even going to try."
So Tchaikovsky crossed his name off it and he showed it to Adolf Brodsky. That's who played second violin, who said, "I can play this." And Adolf Brodsky gave the premiere of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, and his name is still there. He was the second violinist in this group. So it was a very distinguished violin section, which makes sense because they were honoring and they stayed together.
But there was no more Tchaikovsky. They were honoring Ferdinand Laub. The premiere was at the house of Nikolai Rubinstein, who was the founder of the Moscow Conservatory. So this is all very closely knit situation and very emotionally tight situation. Okay. So I want to take a moment- I'm not going to ask you to play for just a moment, because I want to take a moment to look at this tune because it tells you a lot about Tchaikovsky. The big, gorgeous tune. Tchaikovsky, by the way, his tunes are almost like pop songs.
In fact, many of them have been turned into very successful popular songs at a certain time. All the themes are very memorable from his pieces, and he was often criticized for writing such beautiful melodies as if it was cheap. I mean, who would not like those? Well, for example, Tchaikovsky and Brahms didn't like each other's music.
I won't go into it too much, but it's kind of amusing because now to our ears, they have a lot in common, although they're extremely different in temperament. But language is... in fact, you know what? Just for a moment, let's hear the one section that sounds like Brahms a little bit. And by Brahms here, I don't mean that we would think it's Brahms, but the texture of the rhythm is like Brahms. That would be in the B major section.
That's bar 71, two, three, four. Well, it turns into B major. (music) Okay, now I'm sorry to stop you, but the reason I'm having them play this is that the viola is playing triplets against the duplets in the first violin. This is a Brahms thing. Brahms does it all the time. With Brahms, they would be more intertwined and it would be thicker and there would be a kind of a pull of the three and the two. Here, they're further apart and it's more accompanimental. They don't get in each other's way.
But it's very similar texture. They didn't really get along. They admired each other very much and they had several dinners and a lunch and were very frank to each other that they didn't like each other's music. And apparently there's one diary Tchaikovsky mentions that Brahms was so honest about it and so straightforward that it didn't actually bother him when he said, "I don't like your music." But I think it probably did bother him because he also called him an egomaniac mediocrity.
An ego maniacal mediocrity. Yeah, that's what it was. In Russian, which is harder to say. So one more thing before I get to the tune. Between the Mozart of this, there's one more thing I would like to mention. There's a great inharmonic modulation, meaning flats become sharps, a note that is an E-flat will come back as a D sharp.
And that's a very big part of this piece. You just heard some music in B major. It gets there by moving to we think it's going to be E-flat major or E-flat minor. But instead it goes... (music) Now you would think that's very Tchaikovsky and it is. And it's very romantic. And 19th century composers do it a lot, but there's a hint of that in an even more complex way in that Mozart quintet, which is really strange.
Now, let's take a look at that and then I'll get back to the tune. I don't want to forget to do that. You probably know what I'm talking about. If we start bar 60 or so or 61, whichever you prefer. What's happening though is you will hear... I think we actually have to start with the pick up, if you don't mind, the pick up to 60.
So you're going to hear that we're in E-flat minor and then he does exactly the thing. But he's not just one deceptive cadence. It's not just a little cadence. It continues. Inharmonically he goes through a series of sharp keys very quickly, faster than Tchaikovsky would ever do it, because Mozart has all these miraculous, strange moments in his music, and he goes through all these sharp keys and then gets back by doing... to E-flat minor.
But in E-flat major. So again, let's listen carefully to hear E-flat minor becoming D major, going through sharps and going back to E-flat Major. (music) Yeah. Yeah. Now that, I mean, I have to say, Tchaikovsky was right to idolize Mozart. Tchaikovsky never wrote a harmonic passage as complex as that. Mozart often has these visions in his music that they're just enough ideas to give a generation of composers a lot of work to do and maybe several generations of composers.
That passage is amazing. But Tchaikovsky may have taken that idea of that passage in order to do the big middle section in B major and get in and out of it in a similar way. So now we have, there's one more thing.
The key of Tchaikovsky's quartet is E-flat minor. He loved minor keys, but there's no symphony in E-flat minor and there's no other major work of his in E-flat Minor. They're just little bits here and there. He liked D minor and F minor and B minor and C minor. But the Mozart, which is in E-flat major, the movement does, as you heard, go to E-flat minor.
And so also the Mozart Adagio is in this quintet, which was written after Mozart's father died. The other piece I played for you, The Sonata, was after his mother died. This one is after his father died. And it is typically thought of, and I think correctly, that this piece has a lot to do with the grief over his father, not just this movement, the whole thing.
First, movement too. And so Tchaikovsky is thinking of Laub playing this movement so beautifully. And this movement is about the death of someone. And it has all these techniques and ideas that can be used to portray the grief. And it moves through E-flat minor. My theory is that he thought, "I'm going to use E-flat minor. I'm going to use that configuration in the viola that comes from the first violin.
I'm going to use that syncopation in his transition. I can invert a few things." Even the falling melody, the Tchaikovsky... (music) The fact that it falls down, the Mozart basically has that, too. Let's see. I don't think I asked you to look at this, but it happens all over the place. Yeah, well, we already heard. Let's go back to Bar 18 and you'll hear constantly, just like the Tchaikovsky.
Let's hear a little bit of that. (music) Okay, thank you. Second. Viola forgot to play. That with me. We have in the Tchaikovsky The Falling Line. And you may be thinking, "Didn't Tchaikovsky write lots of falling lines?" A few. So I have a couple of famous Tchaikovsky tunes for you. Here's one that just falls straight down twice. (music) Repeats it.
Here's one that goes up and down and all over the place, and it's not really a falling line. But he wrote that at the same time as this quartet. Here's one that again, is more typical of Tchaikovsky is moving around this recursively. So again, that's not up or down. There really is only up or down. You ever hear of musicians discussing up bow and down bow? It's incredible.
Okay. It's a very important thing. But it's only up or down. Doesn't look like that because it goes in different. Okay. But Lansky's aria is just like this. (music) From Eugene Onegin. That's exactly the same thing. And what is Lansky singing about? He's going to die because he knows he's going to get killed in the duel.
So he has (music) (singing) But of course, this is the happy part, but it's still a grief stricken piece. The structure of Tchaikovsky's tune in this quartet is very, very simple. Tchaikovsky does not like, musically speaking, he doesn't like complex development. He likes to repeat things and have them varied and decorated. Change key perhaps. He doesn't get into the kind of development that would repulse him if Brahms did it.
Too German. At the time, they actually would talk about that being German to develop like that and this being Russian and Tchaikovsky in Russia was thought of as a European composer. They were very often angry at him for being so influenced by the West, whereas instead of being like Mussorgsky or Rimsky-Korsakov for Glinka or whatever, or even the worst one of all Cesar Cui.
If you don't know any music by Cesar Cui, you are so lucky. And I say one thing about Cui. Not only was he a terrible composer and a horrible critic who just tore Tchaikovsky apart in the newspapers all the time, hated him. His main job was that he built walls for the military. Wall builder. Okay, now the structure of this tune, this is A, phrase A. And this is phrase B. They're very easy to remember.
Phrase A comes back slightly different, same rhythm. And then the answer to that is based on B, and then it starts again, A with different harmony, but the same notes, and it goes up a little higher for a little drama. Quotes Chopin by accident. Sequence. So we get into C, which is the Chopin-esque part. Starts again. Here we are again.
So he's repeating A too. Connects it, again the C part. C for Chopin. And it never ends like this. That never happens. There's no development. What would a development sound like? Well, a development means that you take fragments of theme, change keys more rapidly, cut it up into pieces and put it back together. So I wrote a small development, which doesn't sound like Tchaikovsky really, because he doesn't do this, but this is sort of a developmental idea based on that theme. (music) And it goes on and on and on.
But that would be a development. And he might do that in a symphony, but probably not. I'm going to make a slight detour because I want to make a point here about the melodies and developments and things. I think I just want to pick a tune by someone else to make a point and then get back to Tchaikovsky.
So I decided on Cole Porter. Why? Not for no reason. Cole Porter, when he was studying piano in England, practiced Tchaikovsky songs all the time, and he took his harmonic language, some of it from Tchaikovsky and he even took some of the texts. There's one we know for sure, and this is a text by a song written where the music is by Tchaikovsky, and the poem is by Alexi Putin, who is a very close friend of Tchaikovsky's, a poet.
This is the Russian translation. "Whether it's day or the dark of night, in disjointed dreams or everyday strife, always with me filling my life in the same single, fateful thought. You always, you, you always, you." Here's a lyric by Cole Porter. "Like the drip, drip, drip of the raindrops when the summer showers through. So a voice within me keeps repeating you, you, you. Night and day."
Now, didn't this one say whether it's in the day or the dark of night? Well, the Cole Porter says, "Night and day, you are the one. Only you beneath the moon and under the sun. Whether near to me or far it is no matter, darling, where you are. I think of you night and day, whether it's day or the dark of night."
Oh, that's the other one. I knew I'd get you that way. Okay, so the tune, the Cole Porter tune is very un-Tchaikovsky in this case. (music) Then he repeats it. That doesn't sound interesting without the words, does it? But it also has great harmonies and then a chromatic scale skips one note. That's okay, but the harmonies are good, right?
You don't expect that. If Cole Porter were writing a Tchaikovsky kind of melody instead of repeating it, he would have a sequence, which means you take the phrase (singing) And maybe go (singing) That you make a sequence out of it and build on it. It's not a development, it's just a sequence. So here's a kind of Tchaikovsky treatment of that tune. (music)
It turns it into something completely different, but it's not that far away. Now, also, if I were to take that tune, which I did, I'm only going to do a little bit of this for you. But if you use the kind of configuration and decoration that Tchaikovsky puts in the viola that he took from Mozart in, and just leave everything else alone, night and day can start to sound like it's by Tchaikovsky. (music)
A lot of it has to do with texture and just the way Cole Porter is infused with Tchaikovsky, actually, harmonically, Tchaikovsky is infused with Mozart. Even more so. It's really a very powerful connection between the two of them. And I think I think I've made my case. But it's up to you, the jury, which is so unfair.
I know. I want to say one more thing, though, that what did Tchaikovsky study? His parents didn't want him to be a composer. He studied law. He actually graduated from the school of Jurisprudence. In his last year there, he didn't go to classes. The exact same thing happened to Robert Schumann. His parents wanted him to go to law school.
He went to law school. He never actually went. He was enrolled. He matriculated. He never went. He only wrote music and practiced the piano. There are some others too. Stravinsky. It's a Russian thing, I guess. Stravinsky was also expected to be a lawyer and went to law school, but he also didn't really go. Tchaikovsky did graduate. I mean, he he actually worked for a while, not as a lawyer, but he did work in the legal field.
And eventually he just couldn't take it anymore and decided to be a composer. Stravinsky never wanted to do anything in the legal field, but he did go to school. And it was because at school, and Stravinsky's our next week lecture, by the way, because at the school where he was studying law, he met the son of Rimsky-Korsakov that was his in and his out of school.
Okay, so I think we've got our case here about Mozart and Tchaikovsky, which there's no question that he idolized Mozart and that he took many things from Mozart and admitted that. But the relationship of the particular piece that Laud played to this particular work, I think is a new earthshaking front page news on Tik Tok everywhere kind of thing.
So we look for it in social media and hold onto your hats. Okay, so let's hear now this movement. I'm going to go sit down. Played by the Ralston Quartet. Thank you. (Music)
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