PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY
PIANO CONCERTO NO. 1
Explained using the 5-4-3-2-1 Method
Duration: about 35 Minutes
Genre: Solo Concerto
Time of Creation: 1874–75/1876–79/1888 (three versions)
World Premiere: October 25, 1875 (first version) / November 29, 1884 (second version) / January 20, 1888 (third version)
Table of Contents
Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in 5 Sentences
Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is one of the most famous pieces of classical music ever written. After completing the first version, Tchaikovsky played the work to his friend and mentor, the Russian pianist Nikolai Rubinstein. However, the latter strongly criticized Tchaikovsky’s composition. Tchaikovsky then sent his concerto to the German pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow, who had a completely different opinion than Rubinstein. Hans von Bülow then also played the premiere of the work on October 25, 1875 in Boston.
4 Highlights from Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1
Highlight 1: Beginning of the first movement
This is one of the most famous beginnings in classical music – the opening theme is played by the orchestra and accompanied by the piano with full-throated chords:
Highlight 2: End of the first movement
The first movement ends with this virtuosic final sequence:
Highlight 3: Beginning of the second movement
The second movement begins particularly delicately: a melody performed solo by the flute is taken up by the piano. A chamber music-like passage develops in which various orchestral instruments enter into dialogue with the piano:
Highlight 4: End of the third movement
Let’s face it: Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is one of the most difficult challenges for pianists, even today. The first two movements are very virtuosic – but it is the third movement that regularly sweeps audiences off their seats. The last 2 minutes of this concerto are simply tremendous:
3 Questions and Answers about Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1
Question 1: To whom was Tchaikovsky's 1st piano concerto dedicated?
Tchaikovsky actually wanted to dedicate his 1st Piano Concerto to the Russian pianist Nikolai Rubinstein, but he strongly criticized the work. Tchaikovsky then dedicated the work to the German pianist Hans von Bülow, who also premiered it in Boston in 1875.
Question 2: How many piano concertos did Tchaikovsky write?
Tchaikovsky wrote three piano concertos, but only the first two have survived in their entirety.
Question 3: How many versions are there of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1?
There are three versions of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. After the premiere of the first version (1875), Tchaikovsky made changes to the piano part (second version, premiere: 1884), and later he deleted ten measures in the third movement (third version, premiere: 1888).
2 Recommended Recordings of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1
Recording 1: Anna Fedorova, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Yves Abel
Recording 2: Khatia Buniatishvili, Israel Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta (Live, 2016)
Unlike Anna Fedorova, Georgian-French pianist Khatia Buniatishvili takes more dynamic and agogic liberties in her interpretation:
This Post Has One Comment
hahah! Pyotr was his own worst critic! let’s admit it he was definitely thinking outside of the box ahead of his time or should i say he totally revised and turned upside down classical music, and he kept surprising himself 😁