Penn Music History Professor Jeffrey Kallberg talks to Susan Lewis about Tchaikovsky's secret correspondence with a patron, Countess von Meck.
WRTI's upcoming broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert features Tchaikovskyâ€™s 5th Symphony. As WRTIâ€™s Susan Lewis reports, insights into the work have come from the composerâ€™s correspondence with a secretive patron.
Listen on Sunday, July 28th, 2 to 4 pm. The program alsoÂ includes music by Wagner and Christopher Rousee.
Listen to Susanâ€™s interview with University of Pennsylvania Professor of Music History Jeffrey Kallberg.
This week we mark the birthday of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who was born in Russia on May 7, 1840 and died suddenly at age 53. As WRTIâ€™s Susan Lewis reports, the composer -Â internationally renowned for his great melodies - was also a master ofÂ technique and form. His body of work includes major works for the ballet, opera, and orchestra, as well as chamber music, concertos, sacred music, piano music, and solo songs.Â Â
Learn more about Tchaikovskyâ€™s life and music. Listen to Susan Lewis' interview with Jeffrey Kallberg, associate dean for arts and letters and professor of music history at the University of Pennsylvania.
Itâ€™s not settled whether 19th-century pianist and composer Frederic Chopin was born on February 22nd, or March 1st, 1810.Â But as Susan Lewis reports, one thing thatâ€™s clear is that he made a significant mark on music in his short life of just under 40 years.Â Â Â Â
LEWIS:Â Born in Poland and raised in Warsaw, Frederic Chopinâ€™s virtuosity was recognized early. As a young man, he went to Paris and joined a community of like-minded performers and artists, including the female writer who took the name George Sand, with whom he had an extended love affair. University of Pennsylvania Music Professor Jeffrey Kallberg says Paris was a mecca for pianists who typically performed their own music.
KALLBERG: Liszt being one, but people like Frederick Kaltbrenner, Theodore Durler, people we tend to forget these days. Â Chopin fit in with these, but what really set him apart was the extraordinary quality of what he composed.
LEWIS: Kallberg says Chopin preferred the craft and counterpoint of Bach and Mozart to the styles of his musical contemporaries, many of whom were writing program music that followed a story line.Â Instead of writing for the piano as a pure melodic instrument, Chopin, would allow it to blur sounds together.
KALLBERG: ...and to produce a sort of sonic haze that looks forward to a composer like Debussy, forÂ example. Iâ€™m thinking ofÂ Â in aÂ work likeÂ the Nocturne in c sharp minor , which is a work unlike most nocturnes seems not to have a lyrical melody at the beginning, what you have is a melody that moves scarcely at all.Â
What you hear is just chords undulating and a mood being set without any melody to hang onto.. so he was rethinking what forms and genres were about by putting emphasis on new kinds of sounds.
LEWIS: Kallberg is author of Chopin at the Boundaries: Sex, History and Musical Genre.
For more on Chopinâ€™s extraordinary life and legacy, listen to Susanâ€™s interview with Jeffrey Kallberg of the University of Pennsylvania.