Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tchaikovsky - Symphony No.2 in C Minor, ' Little Russian '

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 - 1893) was a Russian composer most widely known for his orchestral music. He wrote Ballets, Operas and Symphonies and also music for piano solo and with orchestra, and  chamber music. Tchaikovsky was educated for a civil service career, but went against his family wishes and studied music at the St. Petersburg  Conservatory.  He later became a professor of Music Theory at the school.

Tchaikovsky's musical education at St. Petersburg was influenced heavily by Western and especially German music. He did not become a member of The Five,  although he did use Russian folk song material on occasion. The 2nd Symphony gets its nickname from 3 Ukranian (Little Russia) folk songs Tchaikovsky used in the Symphony.

The Symphony is in 4 movements:
  • Andante sostenuto - Allegro vivo  (Slow and sustained - Lively with vigor) A solo horn plays the song, Down By Mother Volga to begin the movement
  • Andantino marziale, quasi moderato  ( Medium fast march, kind of at a walking pace) He quotes the song, Spin, Oh My Spinner in the central section of this movement.
  • Scherzo, Allegro molto vivace ( Very fast and lively) No actual folk song quoted, but has the quality of a folk song.
  • Finale, Moderato assai - Allegro Vivo (Very moderately - Lively with vigor)  The folk song The Crane is the basis for a set of variations. 

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