Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and The Five
In mid- to late-19th-century Russia, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and a group of composers known as The Five had differing opinions as to whether Russian classical music should be composed following Western or native practices. The composer was friendly but never intimate with most of The Five, ambivalent about their music; their goals and aesthetics did not match his.
About Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and The Five in brief
In mid- to late-19th-century Russia, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and a group of composers known as The Five had differing opinions as to whether Russian classical music should be composed following Western or native practices. The Five sought to produce a specifically Russian kind of art music, rather than one that imitated older European music or relied on European-style conservatory training. The Zapadiki, on the other hand, lauded Russia as a youthful and inexperienced country with the potential of becoming the most advanced European civilization. The opera was the first conceived by a Russian composer on a grand scale, set to a patriotic text, and fit neatly into the doctrine of Official Nationality being promulgated by Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia. It was premiered in 1836, an event long-awaited by the intelligentsia by the Russian Orthodox Church’s proscription of secular music. The only music indigenous to Russia before Tchakovsky’s birthday in 1840 were folk and sacred music; the only music that was truly Russian was Mikhail Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar, which was performed in Saint Petersburg in 1835. The composer was friendly but never intimate with most of The Five, ambivalent about their music; their goals and aesthetics did not match his. He took pains to ensure his musical independence from them as well as from the conservative faction at the Conservatory. The finale of his Second Symphony, nicknamed the Little Russian, was also received enthusiastically by the group on its first performance in 1872.
In the 1880s, long after the members of the Belyayev circle took up where they left off, another group called the leading members of this group—Alexander Glazunov, Anatoly Lyadov and, by then, Rimsky-Korsakov. The result was Tchikovsky’s first recognized masterpiece, the fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet, a work which The Five wholeheartedly embraced. In 1869 the composer entered into a working relationship with Mily Balakirev; the result was the result of TChakikovsky’s first recognition as a composer. Tchakaikovsky remained friendly butNever intimate with The Five; he was ambivalent About Their Music. He took care to ensure that he fully applauded what he was doing and admired both his artistic modesty and his strength of character. He also supported the work of his friend and fellow composer Nikolai Rimskyshkov, who was under pressure from fellow nationalists for his change in attitude on music education and his own intensive studies in music. In the late 1800s, the composer became the first Russian composer to write a symphony, “The Little Russian,” which was first performed in 1869. Tchachaikovsky died in 1883, leaving behind a wife and three children. He was buried in the city of St. Petersburg, where he had lived for more than 30 years.