This article uses bare URLs, which may be threatened by link rot. (May 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Manfred Symphony in B minor, Op. 58, is a programmatic symphony composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between May and September 1885. It is based on the poem Manfred written by Lord Byron in 1817. It is the only one of Tchaikovsky's symphonies he completed that is not numbered (the Symphony in E flat is a conjectural work left unfinished by the composer); it was written between the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies.
Like the fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet , Tchaikovsky wrote the Manfred Symphony at the behest of the nationalist composer Mily Balakirev, who provided a program written by critic Vladimir Stasov. Stasov had sent the program to Balakirev in 1868, hoping that Balakirev would write a symphony based on it. Balakirev did not feel capable of carrying out this project and sent the program to the French composer Hector Berlioz, whose programmatic works had genuinely impressed him. Berlioz refused, claiming old age and ill health, and returned the program to Balakirev. Balakirev kept the program until he reestablished contact with Tchaikovsky in the early 1880s.
The Manfred Symphony is the only programmatic symphonic work by Tchaikovsky in more than one movement. It is the largest of Tchaikovsky’s symphonies both in length and in instrumentation.He initially considered the work one of his best, and in a typical reversal of opinion later considered destroying all but the opening movement. The symphony was greeted with mixed reviews, some finding much to laud in it, and others feeling that its programmatic aspects only weakened it. Manfred remained rarely performed for many years, due to its length and complexity. It has been recorded with increasing frequency but is still seldom heard in the concert hall.
In the first ten years after graduating from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1865 Tchaikovsky completed three symphonies. After that he started five more symphony projects, four of which led to a completed symphony premiered during the composer's lifetime.
|Symphony No. 4||36||1877–1878||1878 (Moscow)|
|Manfred Symphony||58||1885||1886 (Moscow)|
|Symphony No. 5||64||1888||1888 (St Petersburg)|
|Symphony in E-flat||79 posth.||1892||(sketch, not publicly performed during the composer's lifetime)|
|Symphony No. 6||74||1893||1893 (St Petersburg)|
During his second and final trip to Russia in the winter of 1867–68, the French composer Hector Berlioz conducted his program symphony Harold en Italie . The work caused considerable stir. Its subject was very much to the tastes of its audiences, whose enthusiasm for the works of Lord Byron had not exhausted itself as it had begun to do in Europe. Berlioz's use of a four-movement structure for writing program music intrigued many Russian musicians. One immediate consequence was Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's four movement suite Antar , written in 1868.Around the same time as Rimsky-Korsakov composed Antar, critic Vladimir Stasov wrote a scenario for a sequel to Harold, this time based on Byron's poem Manfred and sent it to the nationalist composer Mily Balakirev. Balakirev did not feel attracted to the idea, so he forwarded the program to Berlioz, only hinting it was not entirely his own. Berlioz declined, claiming old age and ill health. He returned the program to Balakirev, who kept it. A little over a year later, Berlioz had died, and by 1872 Balakirev was embroiled in a personal crisis that silenced him creatively.
Tchaikovsky's entrance into this story was strictly by circumstance. He finished his final revision of his fantasy-overture Romeo and Juliet in 1880, a work on which he and Balakirev had worked tirelessly together a decade earlier, and which was dedicated to Balakirev. Since Balakirev had dropped away from the music scene in the intervening time, Tchaikovsky asked the publisher Bessel to send a copy of the printed score to Balakirev, thinking he would have a current address. —"the programme for another symphony ... which you could handle superbly." He presented Stasov's detailed plan, explaining it was not in his character to engage in such composition. As he explained in a letter to Tchaikovsky in October 1882, "this magnificent subject is unsuitable, it doesn't harmonise with my inner frame of mind". When Tchaikovsky showed polite interest, Balakirev sent a copy of Stasov's program, which he had amended with suggested key signatures for each movement and representative works which Tchaikovsky had already written to give some idea of what Balakirev had in mind. Balakirev also gave warning to avoid "vulgarities in the manner of German fanfares and Jägermusik," plus instructions about the layout of the flute and percussion parts.Whether the publisher delayed in fulfilling this request or Balakirev did not reply, no news was forthcoming as to whether Balakirev had received the score, so Tchaikovsky wrote to Balakirev in September 1881. Balakirev wrote back, thanking Tchaikovsky profusely for the score. In the same letter, Balakirev suggested another project
Tchaikovsky declined the project at first. He claimed the subject left him cold and seemed too close to Berlioz's work for him to manage anything but a piece that would lack inspiration and originality. —after two years of effort. So did Tchaikovsky's rereading Manfred for himself while tending to his friend Iosif Kotek in Davos, Switzerland, nestled in the same Alps in which the poem was set. Once he returned home, Tchaikovsky revised the draft Balakirev had made from Stasov's programme and began sketching the first movement.Balakirev persisted. "You must, of course, make an effort," he exhorted, "take a more self-critical approach, don't hurry things." His importunity finally changed Tchaikovsky's mind
Tchaikovsky may have found a subject in Manfred for which he could comfortably compose. However, there was a difference between placing a personal program into a symphony and writing such a work to a literary program. He wrote to his friend and former student Sergei Taneyev, "Composing a program symphony, I have the sensation of being a charlatan and cheating the public; I am paying them not hard cash but rubbishy bits of paper money."However, he later wrote to Emilia Pavlovskaya, "The symphony has turned out to be huge, serious, difficult, absorbing all my time, sometimes to utter exhaustion; but an inner voice tells me that my labor is not in vain and that this work will perhaps be the best of my symphonic works."
Instead of following Balakirev's instructions slavishly, Tchaikovsky wrote it in his own style. Initially, he considered it to be one of his best compositions, but wanted a few years later to destroy the score, though that intention was never carried out.
The Manfred Symphony was first performed in Moscow on 23 March 1886, with Max Erdmannsdörfer as conductor. It is dedicated to Balakirev.
Below are the key signatures Balakirev initially envisioned for Manfred, what he later suggested, and what Tchaikovsky eventually used in the symphony:
Manfred wanders in the Alps. Weary of the fatal question of existence, tormented by hopeless longings and the memory of past crimes, he suffers cruel spiritual pangs. He has plunged into occult sciences and commands the mighty powers of darkness, but neither they nor anything in this world can give him the forgetfulness to which alone he vainly aspires. The memory of the lost Astarte, once passionately loved, gnaws his heart and there is neither limit nor end to Manfred's despair.
The musical embodiment of this program note is presented in five extensive musical slabs spaced out by four silences. A brooding first theme, briefly unharmonized, builds to music both spacious and monolithic. A second theme leads to a second musical slab, this time pushing forward with the loudest climax Tchaikovsky ever wrote. The music in the third slab seems calmer, while the fourth slab marks the appearance of Astarte. The fifth slab culminates in a frantic climax and a series of abrupt, final chords.
The Alpine fairy appears before Manfred in the rainbow from the spray of a waterfall.
Tchaikovsky's efforts in exploring fresh possibilities in scoring allowed him to present his music with new colors and more refined contrasts. In this scherzo, it seems as though the orchestration creates the music, as though Tchaikovsky has thought directly in colors and textures, making these the primary focus. Put simply, there is no tune and little definition of any harmonic base, creating a world alluring, fragile and magical. The point becomes clear when an actual and lyrical tune enters the central section of the movement.
A picture of the bare, simple, free life of the mountain folk.
This pastorale opens with a siciliana, then the three-note call of a hunter. The opening theme returns. We hear a brief and lively peasant dance, then an agitated outburst, before the opening theme returns. The opening pastoral theme eventually returns more spaciously and in a fuller, more decorative scoring. The hunter sounds his horn; the music fades.
The subterranean palace of Arimanes. Infernal orgy. Appearance of Manfred in the middle of the bacchanal. Evocation and appearance of the shade of Astarte. He is pardoned. Death of Manfred.
Many critics consider the finale to be fatally flawed, but the problem lies less with music than with the program. Up to this point Tchaikovsky has done well at reconciling the extramusical requirements for each movement with the music itself. Now, however, the program takes over, beginning with a fugue, which is by its nature academic and undramatic, to depict the horde's discovery of Manfred within their midst.The result, though in many ways becoming a condensed recapitulation of the latter half of the first movement, becomes a fragmented movement with musical disruption and non-sequiturs, ending with the Germanic chorale depicting Manfred's death scene.
Several features make Manfred unique among Tchaikovsky's works. It is the only programmatic work he wrote in more than one movement. The first two movements do not recapitulate their middle sections. The entire work is not only long, playing up to and sometimes over an hour, but it is designed with the utmost spaciousness in mind. There is nothing else in Tchaikovsky's works that captures the long-breathed deliberation of the third movement or the practically verbatim recapitulation of the widely variegated opening section of the second movement following the equally huge middle section. At least one critic has suggested that, in its heroic but perfectly judged dimensions, Manfred resembles Richard Strauss's later tone poem Ein Heldenleben .
Musicologist John Warrack suggests that, of all Tchaikovsky's major neglected works, Manfred may be the one which least deserves this fate. While Tchaikovsky had his doubts about program music, he was actually better able to handle large forms when there was the impulse of an emotional idea behind the music. He apparently felt such an impulse—if not from Byron's poem, then from the program Balakirev gave him—and that impulse brought forth a work of great originality and power. While he did not follow Berlioz in how he might have handled the program, Tchaikovsky did make use of an idée fixe recurring in all four movements. He also followed a Berliozian design of a lengthy, reflective, melancholy opening movement, two colorful interludes as inner movements, and a finale in which Berlioz' Brigands' Orgy becomes (without any hint from the poem) a bacchanal.
Here again is the description of the first movement from the program:
Manfred wanders in the Alpine mountains. His life is shattered, but he is obsessed with life's unanswerable questions. In life nothing remains for him except memories. Images of his ideal Astarte permeate his thoughts, and he vainly calls to her. Only the echo from the cliffs repeats her name. Memories and thoughts bum and gnaw at him. He seeks and begs for oblivion, which no-one can give him.
It is not hard to see how these carefully selected elements might appeal to Tchaikovsky. Free from having to reconcile the first movement to sonata form, Tchaikovsky constructs his own form which succeeds well as an expression of the program. A massive opening motive associated with Manfred himself expresses both the strength and gloom of his character. This motive returns at crucial parts to identify Manfred's part in the action. Beneath this theme is a musical structure that, while not conforming to the traditional recapitulation of themes in sonata form, succeeds in moving forward without losing unity or degenerating into a series of episodes. It is a musical portrait of the guilty, doomed sensibility, drawn strongly as Berlioz' Harold. This was perhaps the aspect of Byron which appealed most vividly to Russians; it also may have touched closely on Tchaikovsky's own situation.
The two inner movements work as effective structural contrasts to the opening drama. The waterfall in the second movement gives Tchaikovsky the opportunity for one of his longest and most beautifully worked out scherzos, scored with a delicacy that Berlioz might have admired; Tchaikovsky's Alpine experiences might have come in handy here. For the third movement pastorale, Balakirev had hoped for a Russian version of the corresponding movement from the Symphonie fantastique . Tchaikovsky's version is more conventional, with two simple themes—one graceful, the other more roughly rustic. It forms in its static quality an idealized retreat before the turmoil of the finale. The finale reflects Harold en Italie in the exuberance of the revelling. Tchaikovsky manages to add a fugue, a return of Astarte and a death scene at the end.'
Nevertheless, musicologist David Brown considered the finale the weakest part of Manfred, not because of the music itself but of the programme. Up to this point, Brown writes, Tchaikovsky had very successfully reconciled extramusical specifications with musical structure. Now the program takes over, resulting in a fragmented movement with musical disruption and non sequiturs. The fatal flaw is the fugue, which Tchaikovsky wrote to convey the reaction of the hordes of the evil spirit Arimanes to Manfred's appearance amongst them. A fugue, Brown argues, is by nature undramatic in both its fixation on one thematic idea and its measured progress; therefore, it cannot help but sound stodgy, resulting in a misstep from which the music never fully recovers.Musicologist Ralph Wood, in contrast, stated that while the finale may have its faults, there is still much about the music that is quite good.
Critics were divided on Manfred from the work's outset. César Cui, the member of the Russian nationalistic music group known as The Five whose reviews of Tchaikovsky's compositions were mostly negative, praised Manfred. Cui commented especially on the "masterly description of Manfred's gloomy, noble image" in the opening movement and the "ravishing refinement" of the scherzo, concluding that "we can only thank [Tchaikovsky] for his new contribution to the treasure-store of our nation's symphonic music."The composer's friend, critic Herman Laroche, was less positive, calling Manfred "among the most raw and unfinished of [Tchaikovsky's] compositions." While admitting the work was "full of melodic warmth and sincerity", Laroche criticized its programmatic aspects, which left "an impression of mystery and uncertainty cribbed from Liszt, though cribbed not in a mechanical fashion but with the addition of some of the technical sequins which cost our deft and resourceful composer so little effort."
Some regard Manfred as one of Tchaikovsky's most brilliant and inspired works; conductor Arturo Toscanini considered it the composer's greatest composition and was one of only two Tchaikovsky symphonies (the other being the Pathetique) that he ever programmed. (His admiration did not stop him from making changes in the score when he performed and recorded it, including a number of cuts). However, others despise it. According to music critic David Hurwitz, composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein referred to it as "trash" and never recorded it.
Some critics have commented that, for all Tchaikovsky's distrust of program music and Manfred's kinship to a Berlioz work he did not wish to repeat, the symphony proves its composer's capacity to infuse another composer's example with his own personality, provided the emotional nature of the work found a response in him. These critics have called Manfred one of the great program symphonies of the 19th century.
The Manfred Symphony was voted number 75 in the ABC Classic FM Top 100 Symphony Countdown in 2009.[ citation needed ]
The symphony has been recorded many times, with recordings made by major orchestras and conductors. Conductors who have recorded the work include Arturo Toscanini, Mstislav Rostropovich, Lorin Maazel, Eugene Goossens, André Previn, Bernard Haitink, Eugene Ormandy, Yuri Temirkanov, Paul Kletzki, Constantin Silvestri, Yevgeny Svetlanov, Riccardo Muti, Sir Neville Marriner, Igor Markevitch, Yuri Ahronovitch, Andrew Litton, Mikhail Pletnev (twice), Vladimir Fedoseyev, Riccardo Chailly, Mariss Jansons, Vasily Petrenko, Zubin Mehta, Vladimir Jurowski, Vladimir Ashkenazy and others.
Manfred is less frequently performed in concert. This is due to its length, unfamiliarity, and its requirement for a large orchestra, including obbligato harmonium (specified by Tchaikovsky, but often played on the organ). It is also considered to be a virtuoso work and difficult to play well.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the Romantic period. He was the first Russian composer whose music would make a lasting impression internationally. He was honored in 1884 by Tsar Alexander III and awarded a lifetime pension.
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five. He was a master of orchestration. His best-known orchestral compositions—Capriccio Espagnol, the Russian Easter Festival Overture, and the symphonic suite Scheherazade—are staples of the classical music repertoire, along with suites and excerpts from some of his 15 operas. Scheherazade is an example of his frequent use of fairy-tale and folk subjects.
The Five, also known as the Mighty Handful, The Mighty Five, and the New Russian School, were five prominent 19th-century Russian composers who worked together to create a distinct national style of classical music: Mily Balakirev, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Borodin. They lived in Saint Petersburg, and collaborated from 1856 to 1870. The Five struggled to promote Russian music.
Mily Alexeyevich Balakirev was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor known today primarily for his work promoting musical nationalism and his encouragement of more famous Russian composers, notably Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. He began his career as a pivotal figure, extending the fusion of traditional folk music and experimental classical music practices begun by composer Mikhail Glinka. In the process, Balakirev developed musical patterns that could express overt nationalistic feeling. After a nervous breakdown and consequent sabbatical, he returned to classical music but did not wield the same level of influence as before.
A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music, usually in a single continuous movement, which illustrates or evokes the content of a poem, short story, novel, painting, landscape, or other (non-musical) source. The German term Tondichtung appears to have been first used by the composer Carl Loewe in 1828. The Hungarian composer Franz Liszt first applied the term Symphonische Dichtung to his 13 works in this vein.
Romeo and Juliet, TH 42, ČW 39, is an orchestral work composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It is styled an Overture-Fantasy, and is based on Shakespeare's play of the same name. Like other composers such as Berlioz and Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky was deeply inspired by Shakespeare and wrote works based on The Tempest and Hamlet as well.
The Piano Concerto No. 1 in B♭ minor, Op. 23, was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between November 1874 and February 1875. It was revised in the summer of 1879 and again in December 1888. The first version received heavy criticism from Nikolai Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky's desired pianist. Rubinstein later repudiated his previous accusations and became a fervent champion of the work. It is one of the most popular of Tchaikovsky's compositions and among the best known of all piano concertos.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 3 in D major, Op. 29, was written in 1875. He began it at Vladimir Shilovsky's estate at Ussovo on 5 June and finished on 1 August at Verbovka. Dedicated to Shilovsky, the work is unique in Tchaikovsky's symphonic output in two ways: it is the only one of his seven symphonies in a major key ; and it is the only one to contain five movements.
Vladimir Vasilievich Stasov, son of Russian architect Vasily Petrovich Stasov (1769–1848), was probably the most respected Russian critic during his lifetime. He graduated from the School of Jurisprudence in 1843, was admitted to the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1859, and was made honorary fellow of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1900, together with his friend Leo Tolstoy.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote his Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Winter Daydreams , Op. 13, in 1866, just after he accepted a professorship at the Moscow Conservatory: it is the composer's earliest notable work. The composer's brother Modest claimed this work cost Tchaikovsky more labor and suffering than any of his other works. Even so, he remained fond of it, writing to his patroness Nadezhda von Meck in 1883 that "although it is in many ways very immature, yet fundamentally it has more substance and is better than any of my other more mature works." He dedicated the symphony to Nikolai Rubinstein.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 17 was composed in 1872. One of Tchaikovsky's joyful compositions, it was successful right from its premiere and also won the favor of the group of nationalistic Russian composers known as "The Five", led by Mily Balakirev. Because Tchaikovsky used three Ukrainian folk songs to great effect in this work, it was nicknamed the "Little Russian" by Nikolay Kashkin, a friend of the composer as well as a well-known musical critic of Moscow. Ukraine was at that time frequently called "Little Russia".
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. posth. 75, was originally begun as a Symphony in E-flat. The composer ultimately abandoned this symphony, but, in 1893, started to rework it into a piano concerto, before abandoning all but the first movement, which he completed as a concert piece for piano and orchestra. It was published posthumously, in 1894, as a single-movement Allegro Brillante. The Symphony No. 6 Pathétique was the last of Tchaikovsky's compositions to be performed in his lifetime, but the Allegro Brillante, now known as the Piano Concerto No. 3, was his last completed composition.
The Andante and Finale is a composition for piano and orchestra that was reworked by Sergei Taneyev from sketches by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky for the abandoned latter movements of his single-movement Piano Concerto No. 3 in E-flat, Op. 75.
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. Tchaikovsky wanted to write professional compositions of such quality that they would stand up to Western scrutiny and thus transcend national barriers, yet remain distinctively Russian in melody, rhythm and other compositional characteristics. The Five, made up of composers Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, 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. While Tchaikovsky himself used folk songs in some of his works, for the most part he tried to follow Western practices of composition, especially in terms of tonality and tonal progression. Also, unlike Tchaikovsky, none of The Five were academically trained in composition; in fact, their leader, Balakirev, considered academicism a threat to musical imagination. Along with critic Vladimir Stasov, who supported The Five, Balakirev attacked relentlessly both the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, from which Tchaikovsky had graduated, and its founder Anton Rubinstein, orally and in print.
Nadezhda Nikolayevna Rimskaya-Korsakova (Russian: Надежда Николаевна Римская-Корсакова listen née Purgold was a Russian pianist and composer as well as the wife of composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. She was also the mother of Russian musicologist Andrey Rimsky-Korsakov.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov composed his Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 1, between 1861 and 1865 under the guidance of Mily Balakirev. Balakirev also premiered the work at a concert of the Free Music School in December 1865. Rimsky-Korsakov revised the work in 1884.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed his Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G, Op. 55 in 1884, writing it concurrently with his Concert Fantasia in G, Op. 56, for piano and orchestra. The originally intended opening movement of the suite, Contrastes, instead became the closing movement of the fantasia. Both works were also intended initially as more mainstream compositions than they became; the fantasia was intended as a piano concerto, while the suite was conceived as a symphony.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky struggled with sonata form, the primary Western principle for building large-scale musical structures since the middle of the 19th century. Traditional Russian treatment of melody, harmony and structure actually worked against sonata form's modus operandi of movement, growth and development. Russian music—the Russian creative mentality as a whole, in fact—functioned on the principle of stasis. Russian novels, plays and operas were written as collections of self-contained tableaux, with the plots proceeding from one set-piece to the next. Russian folk music operated along the same lines, with songs comprised as a series of self-contained melodic units repeated continually. Compared to this mindset, the precepts of sonata form probably seemed as alien as if they had arrived from the moon.
While the contributions of the Russian nationalistic group The Five were important in their own right in developing an independent Russian voice and consciousness in classical music, the compositions of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky became dominant in 19th century Russia, with Tchaikovsky becoming known both in and outside Russia as its greatest musical talent. His formal conservatory training allowed him to write works with Western-oriented attitudes and techniques, showcasing a wide range and breadth of technique from a poised "Classical" form simulating 18th century Rococo elegance to a style more characteristic of Russian nationalists or a musical idiom expressly to channel his own overwrought emotions.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's relations with the group of composers known as the Belyayev circle, which lasted from 1887 until Tchaikovsky's death in 1893, influenced all of their music and briefly helped shape the next generation of Russian composers. This group was named after timber merchant Mitrofan Belyayev, an amateur musician who became an influential music patron and publisher after he had taken an interest in Alexander Glazunov's work. By 1887, Tchaikovsky was firmly established as one of the leading composers in Russia. A favorite of Tsar Alexander III, he was widely regarded as a national treasure. He was in demand as a guest conductor in Russia and Western Europe, and in 1890 visited the United States in the same capacity. By contrast, the fortunes of the nationalistic group of composers known as The Five, which preceded the Belyayev circle, had waned, and the group had long since dispersed; of its members, only Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov remained fully active as a composer. Now a professor of musical composition and orchestration at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Rimsky-Korsakov had become a firm believer in the Western-based compositional training that had been once frowned upon by the group.