The Composer Offers Himself a Surprise

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© Charles Thibo

Rimsky-Korsakov is well-known for his symphonic poems and his operas. However, he has also written a piano concerto, rarely performed but no less interesting than his other works. It is just as lyrical as his symphonic poems, and over time this short, lovely piece has become one of my favourites. The composer wrote his Piano Concerto in C-sharp minor (op. 30) between 1882 and 1883, after he had met his patron Mitrofan Belayev. Rimsky-Korsakov belonged to the circle of artists who emphasized the national element in Russian music, and Belayev, a nouveau-riche industrialist believing in a greater role for Russian, felt drawn towards the composer.

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From Europe with Acid

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Dmitry Shostakovich.

Two days ago I gave you an impromptu on the pupil. Today I will give you one on the master! Yesterday Luxembourg celebrated the Day of Europe, a brand new banking holiday, courtesy of our Socialist coalition party, the very party claiming that Luxembourg needs to defend its competitiveness by increasing the flexibility of its work force. Raising profits by working less – the magic formula! Luxembourg’s economy obeys revolutionary new rules.

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Dancing into Spring with Tchaikovsky

Good morning! © Charles Thibo

Another sunrise, another day, another adventure? Long ago I read a sentimental novel about an aircraft pilot living a solitary life, proud of his independence, unattached to any woman, any family, living a self-determined life with an emphasis on having fun. No shackles, no responsibility except for his own life. What a delusion! At some point he acknowledged the vast emptiness around himself and inside himself. He meets a woman than, but for the two to become soul mates he needs to turn fear into courage, prejudices into tolerance. At some point he decides that to succeed as a couple he and his soul mate have to turn every day of their every-day life into an adventure.

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Mourning the Best Violinist of Tchaikovsky’s Time

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Sweet pain. © Charles Thibo

Andante, 78 bars – a long introduction. A funeral music, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky knew exactly what he was doing. He was mourning a friend, Ferdinand Laub, the violinist of the Russian Musical Society’s string quartet (“Moscow Quartet”) who had performed Tchaikovsky’s first two string quartets at their premiere. This was the composer’s third string quartet in E flat minor, Op. 30. Tchaikovsky wrote it in a very short time span, in January and February 1876 “I rush at full speed to finish my quartet”, he wrote to his brother Modest on February 10, 1876. Eight days later the score was ready, the premiere took place on March 2 at the Moscow Conservatory.

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