Tchaikovsky: revival of an underrated great

Mon Dec 29, 2008 8:02pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Amie Ferris-Rotman and Michael Roddy

KLIN, Russia/LONDON (Reuters) - A wobbly table in a blue wooden house overlooking silver birch trees is witnessing the worldwide revival of interest in the work of an often underrated 19th-century Russian composer.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky, whose "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" in the "Nutcracker" ballet delights children and adults alike at this time of year, wrote his later works at the table in his last residence in the small town of Klin, about 85 km (60 miles) northwest of Moscow.

In grounds which are also home to a white pagoda and barn and stables, surrounded by Soviet-era prefabricated homes, the number of Tchaikovsky fans who are ushered along the house's squeaky oak floors is steadily increasing.

Last year there were 86,000 visitors, up from 60,000 in 2003. Even more are expected this year, said Natalia Gorbunova, chief researcher and head of what is now a museum.

"Tchaikovsky's music is undergoing a revival now, in our time, because his music is loved by the whole world, and this love continues," she said.

While nostalgia for Soviet days is making headlines from Russia and Tchaikovsky's work has been derided by some critics as populist, enthusiasts say its appeal is timeless and intimate.

Visitor Liudmila Soltokova, a retired engineer from Tchaikovsky's birthplace of Votkinsk, a small town about 1,000 km (620 miles) east of Moscow near the Ural mountains, said she was fulfilling a lifelong dream to come to the house.

"His music is simply amazing, it touches your soul," she said, glancing at his shiny onyx piano royale, in the center of a large room heavily decorated with framed black-and-white photographs of his relatives.   Continued...

<p>Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony, named "Pathetique," is seen on the table at a museum in his last residence in the small town of Klin, about 85 km (60 miles) northwest of Moscow, December 6, 2008. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov</p>