I have been aching to write about Tchaikovsky’s famous first piano concerto. I have joyously relieved the opening melody over and over for weeks since I saw the powerful and disturbing pool scene from Harold and Maude.
Tchaikovsky’s initial version of his piano concerto received a scathing review from Tchaikovsky’s idol pianist Nikolai Rubinstein. The review was so ruthless that the often touchy Tchaikovsky premiered the piece as far from Rubinstein and Moscow as humanly possible: he sent it to America. Touring German pianist Hans von Bulow was the perfect ticket. Bulow graciously premiered the original version of the piano concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in 1875.
Pytor Tchaikovsky embodies the roaring passions of the Romantic era with melodies that can stay with you for the rest of your life. He has this fantastic capacity to create pieces that take your current emotional state and magnify it in an out-of-body release. You can allow yourself to voyage along Tchaikovsky’s journey – or perhaps Tchaikovsky is mystically creating music that tells your story.
Listen: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor