Tchaikovsky in Germany


On November 7th, 1884, Peter Tchaikovsky was in Germany. He wrote to the wife of his brother Anatol:

“My time in Berlin passed pleasantly. I saw Weber’s opera Oberon. I’ve always heard that it’s boring but I liked it very much. In some places the music is charming even if the plot is ridiculous. It’s a little like The Magic Flute and very funny. In the scene where the entire corps de ballet falls down writhing at the sound of a magic horn I laughed like a fiend. Oberon’s music is delightful, and whenever he shows up the music is animated and poetic. What I like about Berlin is that everything starts at seven P.M. There are very few breaks and everything was over by 9:30.

“One evening in Berlin I encountered an acquaintance in a beer hall and implored him not to mention me to Anton Rubinstein, who is preparing some wretched stuff of his own for an extraordinary concert. Went to the home of conductor Benjamin Belse and heard the Andante of my String Quartet. Why always the Andante? They don’t seem to want or be aware of anything else! On the day I left I read that my Andante would be played in still another concert.

“Every day at dinner I was amazed by the huge quantities of food the Germans scarf down. Much more than the Russians. I find all these dinner interludes very congenial because a person can remain silent and no one tries to talk.

“As usual I’ve been out of luck at the theaters. Yesterday there was a performance of Gluck’s Armida but today it’s Carmen, which crops up everywhere. Tomorrow it’s Posse mit Gesang—whatever that is. And also tomorrow Die Meistersinger. Alas! I won’t be able to stay that long.”

Peter Tchaikovsky writing from Munich about his musical experiences in Germany in a letter of November 7th, 1884.

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