The Winter Daydreams of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
What kind of musical thoughts were going through the mind of great Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in the spring of 1866 as he started composing his First Symphony?
Tchaikovsky began work on his Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13 (“Winter Daydreams”) in March of 1866, just after accepting a professorship at the Moscow Conservatory and it would take him until near Christmas-time to complete it.
Even though it cost him much trouble and lots of work, in later life Tchaikovsky remained particularly fond of this early symphony, acknowledging its weaknesses of form but also recognizing, as we do when we hear it today, its richness of melodic inspiration, which was after all, Tchaikovsky’s greatest gift as a composer and why he is still so much loved today.
He gave it the title “Winter Daydreams,” and in the opening movement you can hear the vast expanse of the Russian winter landscape and a traveler going through the countryside.
In fact, the first and second movements are called “Daydreams of a Winter Journey” and “Land of desolation, land of mists,” just so we don’t miss the picture Tchaikovsky intended.
So, even though we’re about to head into warmer weather in Ohio, if you would like to take a 45 minute musical journey back into a cooler season, join me this evening for Symphony at 7 on Classical 101 for Peter Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in g, “Winter Daydreams.”