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kowsky wrote on January 25, 1870; “Balakireff begins to honor me more and more.* . . . My overture pleased them very much, and it also pleases me.” A day or so before the performance Tschaikowsky wrote his brother Modest: “There has already been one rehearsal. The piece does not seem to be ugly. As for the rest—that is known only to the dear
Lord!” The first performance of the overture was on March 16, 1870, at a concert of the Musical Society, Moscow. The work was not successful. Nicolas Rubinstein, who conducted, had just been sentenced to a fine of twenty-five roubles on account of some act of executive severity in the Conservatory. A newspaper on the day of the concert suggested
*Tschaikowsky some years afterward wrote letters in which he defined clearly his position toward the “Cabinet” of the neo-Russian school, and also put forth his views on “national music.” In a letter written to Mrs. von Meck (January 5, 1878) he described Balakireff as “the most important individuality of the circle; but he has grown mute and has done little. He has an extraordinary talent, which has been choked by various fatal circumstances. After he had made a parade of his infidelity, he suddenly turned devote. Now he is always in church, fasts, prays to all sorts of relics—and does nothing else. In spite of his extraordinary gifts, he has stirred up much mischief. It was he that ruined the early years of Rimsky-Korsakoff by persuading him that he had nothing to learn. He is the true inventor of the doctrines of this remarkable circle, in which so much undeveloped or falsely developed strength, or strength that prematurely went to waste, is found.” Balakireff, born in 1836, died in 1910. Among his earlier orchestral works are the symhonic poem “Tamara’’ and overtures with Russian, Czech, and Spanish themes. His Oriental fantasia “Islamei,” for pianoforte, is well known in this country, and his “Tamara” was first played by the Chicago Orchestra in 1896. His Symphony in C major was played in Boston at a concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, March 14, 1908; his symphonic poem “In Bohemia,” at a concert of the Boston Orcehstral Club January 21, 1908; his Overture on Three Russian Themes, at a concert of the Boston Orchestral Club, April 19, 1910; and his Overture on a Theme of a Spanish March, at a concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, November 25, 1911. Among his latest works were a second symphony and a pianoforte concerto. He wrote an overture and incidental music to “King Lear.”
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that the admirers of Rubinstein should take up a collection at the concert, so that he should not be obliged to serve out the fine in jail. This excited such indignation that, when Rubinstein appeared on the stage, he was greeted with great enthusiasm, and no one thought of overture or concert. Tschaikowsky wrote Klimenko: “My overture had no success at all here, and was wholly ignored. . . . After the concert a crowd of us supped at Gurin's restaurant. During the whole evening no one spoke to me a word about the overture. And yet I longed so for sympathy and recognition.” During a sojourn in Switzerland that summer Tschaikowsky made radical changes in “Romeo and Juliet.” Through the assistance of N. Rubinstein and Karl Klindworth, the overture, dedicated to Mily Alexejewtisch Balakireff, was published by Bote & Bock, of Berlin, in 1871. It was soon played in German cities. But Tschaikowsky was not satisfied with his work. He made still other changes, and, it is said, shortened the overture. The second edition, published in 1881, contains these alterations. The first performance of “Romeo and Juliet” in America was by the Philharmonic Society of New York, Carl Bergmann conductor, April 22, 1876. The first performance in Boston was by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, February 8, 1890. The work is scored for piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, English horn, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, bass tuba, a set of three kettledrums, bass drum, cymbals, harp, strings.
:k + + The overture begins Andante non tanto, quasi moderato, F-sharp
minor, 4-4. Clarinets and bassoons sound the solemn harmonies which, according to Kashkin, characterize Friar Laurence; and yet
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Hermann Teibler finds this introduction symbolical of “the burden of fate.”* A short theme creeps among the strings. There is an organ-point on D-flat, with modulation to F minor (flutes, horns, harp, lower strings). The Friar Laurence theme is repeated (flutes, oboes, clarinets, English horn), with pizzicato bass. The ascending cry of the flutes is heard in E minor instead of F minor as before. Allegro giusto, B minor, 4-4. The two households “from ancient grudge break to new mutiny.” Wood-wind, horns, and strings picture the hatred and fury that find vent in street broils. There is a brilliant passage for strings, which is followed by a repetition of the strife music. Then comes the first love theme, in D-flat major (muted violas and English horn, horns in syncopated accompaniment, with strings pizz.). This motive is not unlike in mood, and at times in melodic structure, Tschaikowsky's famous melody, “Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt” (Op. 6, No. 6), which was composed in December, 1869. In the “Duo from ‘Romeo and Juliet,’” found among Tschaikowsky's sketches and orchestrated by S. Tanéïeff, this theme is the climax, the melodic phrase which Romeo sings to “O nuit d'extase, arrête toi, O nuit d'amour, étends ton voile noir surnous!” (“Oh, tarry, night of ecstasy, O night of love, stretch thy dark veil over us!") Divided and muted violins, with violas pizz., play most delicate and mysterious chords (D-flat major), which, in the the duet above mentioned, serve as accompaniment to the amorous dialogue of Romeo and Juliet in the chamber scene. Flutes and oboes take up the first love theme. ... ","I do not think that Romeo is designed merely as an exhibition of a man unfortunate in love... I consider him to be meant as the character of an unlucky man,—a man who, with the best views and fairest intentions, is perpetually so unfortunate as to fail in every aspiration, and, while exerting himself to the
utmost in their behalf, to involve all whom he holds dearest in misery and ruin.” This is the view of Dr. William Maginn, who contrasted Romeo, the unlucky, with Bottom, the lucky man.
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