In the opening chapters he approaches the central crisis of his whole existence: his marriage to Antonina Milyukova. The marriage was a desperate gesture, a hopeless attempt to balance, or at least disguise, his strongly homosexual nature. But only five days after the wedding he wrote to his brother Anatoly, "Physically my wife has become totally repugnant to me." David Brown has had access to some of Tchaikovsky's most revealing letters; they were printed in Russia in 1940, but suppressed before publication, and in 1979, one of the few surviving copies was smuggled out of the country. Dr. Brown also provides a fascinating picture of the composer's long and strange relationship with his benefactress, Mrs. von Meck. By mutual agreement, they never met, yet their friendship produced a prodigious and often passionately expressed correspondence. This was the period of some of Tchaikovsky's masterpieces: the first piano concerto, Swan Lake, the fourth symphony, Eugene Onegin, Francesca de Rimini, and the violin concerto. The book is at least as important a contribution to musical scholarship as to biography.
As biography, it is steadily absorbing in its portrayal of a man and an artist striving to keep the creative spark alive, often overcome by melancholy, fleeing from one part of Europe to another, but always breaking through to new triumphs. Unquestionably, this is going to be the definitive work on Tchaikovsky in English for many years to come.
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(203mm x 127mm x 19mm)
WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
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Author Biography - David Brown
David Brown learned Russian in the military and taught in secondary schools before becoming music librarian of London University. In 1962 he moved to Southampton University, retiring as Professor of Musicology in 1989. His books have often focused on the Russian composers, including his definitive biography of Tchaikovsky. As the official Soviet review acknowledges: "Frankly, we have nothing like it."