Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the Russian Musical Society. A Sociocultural Aspect of Interaction

Elena E. Polotskaya


The article examines the multifaceted relations between Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and the Russian Musical
Society (RMS) in the aspect of their interaction and mutual influence. This relationship began during the period of
Tchaikovsky’s studies at the Musical Classes affiliated with the RMS, and then at the St. Petersburg Conservatory,
which presented a structural component of the RMS. It was particularly to the directorate of the RMS that in 1862
Tchaikovsky wrote his request about his enrollment at the Conservatory, and particularly the concerts organized by the
RMS shaped the foundation of his compositional talent. Having become a professor of music theory at the Moscow
Conservatory, Tchaikovsky entered into titular relations with the RMS as the superior organization: he signed official
contracts, presented himself for rewards, and received material assistant. As a music critic Tchaikovsky illuminated the
Society’s activities in the press for almost ten years. The creative path of Tchaikovsky the composer is connected in
the closest manner with the RMS: he received commissions from the Society to write compositions; various regional
sections of the Society (primarily, the Moscow and St. Petersburg Sections) presented concert venues to him; many
premieres of Tchaikovsky’s works took place at the orchestral and chamber assemblies of the RMS.
The rise in the number of concerts of the RMS with Tchaikovsky’s music towards the second half of the 1880s, and
then the loss of this precedence indicates at the tendency of the decrease of the prestige of the RMS and the increase of
the authority of other concert organizations in the early 1890s. An aspiration to halt the decline in the RMS was what in
many ways stipulated Tchaikovsky’s activities as the director of the Moscow Section of the RMS, his work on inviting
outstanding musicians for participation in the Society’s concerts, as well as the activities of Tchaikovsky the conductor
during the period of his directorship. No less significant from the historical perspective the endeavors of Tchaikovsky
the director were connected with his aspiration to uphold the high tradition of the Moscow Conservatory, in light of
which we may view his initiatives of confirming Sergei Taneyev on the post of the director of the conservatory and
inviting Vassily Safonov. In this manner the article traces the mutual advantage of Tchaikovsky’s interactions with the
RMS on a historical-cultural scale.

Keywords: Piotr I. Tchaikovsky, the Russian Musical Society, the first conservatories in Russia, concert life in
Russia of the 2nd half of the 19th century, performances of Tchaikovsky’s music during his lifetime.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17674/1997-0854.2018.4.080-090


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