Tchaikovsky speaks

There are tons of portraits and photographs of Tchaikovsky around, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to show you one of Arkip Kuindzhi’s beautiful and numinous paintings instead.

Lots of people know what Tchaikovsky looked like, but knowing how he spoke (and – believe it or not – whistled) is a much rarer thing. Here – courtesy of Thomas Edison – is a recording of the composer and his friends (including Anton Rubinstein) fooling about whilst being captured for posterity on that wonder of their age, the phonograph.

Tchaikovsky speaks

…and below (thanks to transformingArt on You-Tube) is the translated contents of the recording:

A. Rubinstein: What a wonderful thing [the phonograph].
J. Block: Finally.
E. Lawrowskaja: A disgusting…how he dares slyly to name me.
W. Safonov : (Sings a scale incorrectly).
P. Tchaikovsky: This trill could be better.
E. Lawrowskaja: (sings).
P. Tchaikovsky: Block is good, but Edison is even better.
E. Lawrowskaja: (sings) A-o, a-o.
W. Safonow: (In German) Peter Jurgenson in Moskau.
P. Tchaikovsky: Who just spoke? It seems to have been Safonow. (Whistles)

Listening:
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence
Borodin String Quartet – Souvenir De Florence, Op. 70: I. Allegro Con Spirito

[Spotify search terms: tchaikovsky souvenir borodin rostropovich]

Score:
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence

Course materials:
Tchaikovsky short biography

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