Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

On this Sunday's Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast on WRTI, we'll hear a performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. As WRTI's Jim Cotter reports the instrument on which it is being played would have sounded very familiar to the composer.

In 1878 Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote a violin concerto for the Hungarian violinist Leopold Auer. It was to be performed on Auer's 1690 Stradivarius, which is today the main instrument of the Russian-born Israeli violinist Vadim Gluzman.

Born in Shanghai, the Philadelphia Orchestra's principal cellist has performed in recitals, and with orchestras, all over the world. As WRTI's Susan Lewis reports, Hai-Ye Ni is the featured soloist on WRTI's concert broadcast of the Philadelphia Orchestra on Sunday March 9th. She'll perform Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme. Written for Tchaikovsky's friend, German Cellist Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, the work - a theme with seven different variations - is a challenge for the soloist, who plays almost constantly. 

Join us for an archival broadcast of Tchaikovsky’s fateful romance Eugene Onegin. Valery Gergiev conducts the performance from October 5th, 2013, which features soprano Anna Netrebko as the naive heroine Tatiana, baritone Mariusz Kwiecien as the aristocratic title character, and tenor Piotr Beczala as the poet Lenski. Mezzo-soprano Oksana Volkova sings the role of Tatiana’s sister, Olga, and Alexei Tanovitski sings Prince Gremin.

Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection broadcasts Saturday, December 7th, 2013, 5-6 pm on WRTI and wrti.org. Shakespeare continues to live, and if you were to name an orchestral work based on one of his plays, we wouldn’t blame you for coming up with one of the most popular works in the repertoire, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. But it wouldn’t be Discoveries without a curve ball or three, so this month we offer another Fantasy-Overture of his, Hamlet.

WRTI's upcoming broadcast of The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert features Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, insights into the work have come from the composer’s correspondence with a secretive patron.

Listen on Sunday, July 28th, 2 to 4 pm. The program also includes music by Wagner and Christopher Rousee.

I admit I approach any new recordings of these, my favorite Tchaikovsky symphonies, with a bit of trepidation. Over the years I’ve encountered one too many recordings, as well as concert performances, that lay on the incurable Romanticism a bit too thick. Thematic presentations are muddled and tempos are stretched so that each movement, regardless of the tempo indication, seems to plod at the same pace.

It’s as if some conductors believed that Tchaikovsky, who always wore his heart on his sleeve, needed help expressing his feelings.

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 WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the composer -  internationally renowned for his great melodies - was also a master of  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.   


Bramwell Tovey conducts the New York Philharmonic in an all-Tchaikovsky program - perfect summertime listening!  They're joined by pianist Simon Trpčeski in a performance of the infrequently heard Piano Concerto No. 2.  Selections from Act IV of Swan Lake, and the ever-popular 1812 Overture round out the program. Sunday, August 5th, 3 to 5 pm.

More Information about the program.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote his piece The Year 1812, Festival Overture in E flat major in commemoration of the Russian Army's successful defense of Moscow against Napoleon's advancing troops at the Battle of Borodino. Most Americans, however, know the piece as the bombastic tune that accompanies Fourth of July fireworks shows all over the country.

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