Trying to Escape Convention and Banality

Tanayev Sym3-1
Orchestral or chamber music? © Charles Thibo

“It does seem to me, though, that if you insist, with relentless consistency, in sticking to the same compositional techniques when writing symphonies, string quartets, and operas, the results will hardly be as successful. However, I truly do not know. All I know is that you have a great talent, a lot of intelligence, and a whole sea of hatred for everything that is conventional, banal, and to be had cheaply, and that as a result of this we must sooner or later expect to see rich fruits.” Thus the master spoke. Pyotr Tchaikovsky wrote on April 14, 1884, in a letter to Sergei Taneyev, his former pupil, what he thought of Taneyev’s latest work, a cantata. Taneyev was fascinated by counterpoint technique and naturally applied it to his multiple choral works.

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