These DATELINE snippets will address moments in my own life (if you’ll forgive the self indulgence) when my voice seemed lost in the wilderness and other times when I felt encouraged and spurred on. In about 1970, I met a man on a train and we struck up a conversation. It turned out that he was a professional orchestral player.
“I seem to spend my life defending Tchaikovsky,” I said.
“Good for you!” said my fellow traveller enthusiastically. ”He’s well worth defending.”
So here I am again, doing just that…
~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~
In September, I was delighted to be appointed Head of Music at Riverway High School for Girls in Stafford, UK. The school had lacked a full-time music teacher for some time and was somewhat run down. Searching around my department, I looked at one of the text books of which we had many copies – I won’t give its title or its author but it was a sort of listener’s guide to classical music. There were chapters devoted to Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and all the usual suspects. But I could not find one on Tchaikovsky.
Flicking on further in the book, I came across a chapter, the title of which I can’t recall, but may as well have been named, “Other people who spoiled perfectly good music paper.”
I remember the few paragraphs given over to Tchaikovsky and will remember how it concluded for as long as I live…
The popularity of Tchaikovsky’s music is out of all proportion to its artistic merit…
That was all I needed to read. Out went the books to the bins. I never wanted to set eyes on them again! But that was the prevailing view at the time. I thought to myself then that I really should do something about that – and here I am doing it!