>Dave, thanks for the Archive excavation. I see that Tchaikovsky did not
>even make Steve's short list.
Let me make it clear: I'm a Tchaikovsky addict. I don't get tired of
any of his "hits," and I actually think his hits are deservedly popular.
Moreover, there's a lot of great stuff that *doesn't* get played all
>But if these are the criteria:
>>1. Have a lasting influence on the course of music.
>>2. Be proficient in all genres of his day.
>>3. Show a wide expressive range.
>>4. A consistency of result. Not everything must be wonderful,
>>but a preponderance should.
>>5. I'm not as sure about this one, but at least one semi-popular
>>hit. To me, this shows that the music speaks to everybody.
>...I definitely think he should have.
On the other hand, he fails #1. He had an immediate influence, on
people like Rachmaninoff, but it wasn't an influence that changed the
course of music, like for example Glinka's or Monteverdi's. Tchaikovsky
always struck me as a somewhat isolated, idiosyncratic figure -- odd, I
know, to say about such a popular composer. On the other hand, van Gogh
is a popular painter, but he influenced far fewer painters than Cezanne.
It's very difficult for another artist to appropriate Tchaikovsky, van
Gogh, or, in poetry, E. E. Cummings. One winds up "doing" those
composers, rather than contributing something of your own. Rachmaninoff
had an artistic voice strong enough in its own way, I think, that
Tchaikovsky became an approach to music, rather than a treasure chest
>And in my original post, I somehow omitted the Serenade for String
>Orchestra. I can envision Tchaikovsky thumbing his nose at his critics
>while composing this: "Look what I can do with only a scale."
The rising and descending scale is a Tchaikovsky "fingerprint." He does
this again and again. Note, for example, the Nutcracker with the section
"Journey to the Land of Sugar Plums" (I think it's called that). Same
deal, and a very noble passage.