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Andante Cantabile

Composer
Tchaikowski Op. 11
Arranger
Year of arrangement
2005
Difficulty
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
Duration
7 minutes
Genre
Classical music
Instrumentation
Orchestra
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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (May 7 1840 - November 6 1893). While not part of the nationalistic music group known as ’The Five’, Tchaikovsky wrote music which, in the opinion of Harold Schonberg, was distinctly Russian. Despite the compositional efforts of The Five, Tchaikovsky dominates 19th century Russian music as its greatest talent. While his formal conservatory training instilled in him Western-oriented attitudes and techniques, his essential nature, as he always insisted, remained Russian. This was true both in his use of actual folk song and his deep absorption in Russian life and ways of thought. His natural gifts, especially for melody (what he called the "lyrical idea"), give his music a permanent appeal. However, it was his hard-won though secure and professional technique, plus his ability to use it for the expression of his emotional life, which allowed him to realize his potential more fully than any of his major Russian contemporaries. Tchaikovsky’s innate Russianness and his love for his country’s folk music ensured that he could never become a mere imitator of Western practices and styles, despite the heavy conditioning of his conservatory training. However, this training allowed him to show a remarkable range and breadth of technique. This breadth was fostered by the diverse expressive purposes he sought in his compositions, whether it was to fashion a poised "Classical" form to simulate the elegance of the 18th century Rococo, to plunge into the bold world of the Russian nationalists, or to forge a musical language to serve as a vehicle for his own overwrought emotions. Since his death Tchaikovsky’s music has gained great popularity. Nevertheless, its emotional directness, founded primarily on its composer’s ability to fashion themes of remarkable eloquence and emotive power supported by matching harmony and rich orchestral resource, has often been interpreted as a sign of essential shallowness. Likewise, the way in which Tchaikovsky’s realm of strong emotion has been freely plundered by composers of lower intent has proved a detriment to his reputation. However, popular adulation and critical prejudice aside, Tchaikovsky can be seen as a composer of wide range both in genre and type of expression who toiled unceasingly over creative problems and whose professional competence remained the highest.

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