Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – The Voyevoda
(b. Votkinsk, May 7, 1840 – d. St. Petersburg, Nov. 6, 1893)
“ The Voyevoda “ (ВОЕВОДА), the first opera of the famous Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, which he later destroyed, if not completely, is definitely worthy of revival and captivates with pleasant-sounding melodies, melancholic-optimistic sounds and a discreet orchestral accompaniment of the well-led singing voices. Tchaikovsky was born in 1840 in Votkinsk, Russia, and studied music at the Petersburg Conservatory from 1863 to 1865. Among his teachers was Anton Rubinstein. From 1866 to 1878 he taught music theory at the Moscow Conservatory, whose director was Nikolai Rubinstein, his teacher’s brother. Later Tchaikovsky worked as a music critic, and from 1878 also as a conductor and freelance composer. He is best known for his operas “Eugene Onegin” and “Queen of Spades” and his ballets “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake”.
The Russian libretto for the opera in three acts and four scenes “ The Voyevoda,” Op. 3, is based on the 1865 comedy “A Dream on the Volga” (Сон на Волге) in a prologue and five acts by Aleksandr Nikolajewitsch Ostrowski (1823-1886), whom Tchaikovsky had met in Moscow in January 1866. He wrote to his brother Anatoli Iljitsch: “There is hope that Ostrowski himself will write me a libretto from The Voyevoda.”1 From the beginning of 1867 until March 5, 1867, when he sent it to Tchaikovsky, Ostrowski wrote the libretto of Act 1, whereupon Tchaikovsky began setting it to music. In addition, Ostrowski gave him the notes to the song “На море утушка,” which Tchaikovsky used for the first women’s chorus. He told Rimski-Korsakov in September 1867: “Ostrowski (who knows Russian songs quite well) recorded it himself and handed it to me on a slip of paper […]. I remember that I did not change the basic melody, but only diatonized it […]. …
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