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Tchaikovsky found in his relationship with Antonina Miliukov, a confirmation in his belief in the unyielding workings of Fate in human destiny. He later wrote to Madame von Meek, his patron, “We cannot escape our Fate, and there was something fatalistic about my meeting that girl.”

And so, it is this idea of fate that Tchaikovsky works a motif into the Symphony #5. The “Fate Theme” is played by the clarinets in the introduction as a slow march in four, and whenever it returns, it does so in a manner; always against a triple meter. Four going into three is like a square block going into a round hole.

Only the finale finds this motif finally resolved into a four pattern where it would feel comfortable. Let’s listen to the “Fate Motif” played in the introduction by the clarinets. The melody is based on an aria from Michail Glinka’s opera, A Life for the Czar. It is this theme that weaves itself into each movement and is the unifying thread of the symphony (C.D. excerpt #5)

The second theme is this melody (Play in violin {B} for 8 measures) What I love about Tchaikovsky is that he will take apart a melody and use a small snippet for entirely new material. What do you think he can do with just this? (Play on violin ______________) Here’s how Tchaikovsky uses it. (C.D. excerpt #6 {D} to 4 measures after {E})

The second movement begins with this heartfelt French horn solo. (C.D. excerpt #7)
The second theme: (Play on violin Andante Mosso for 6 measures.) It’s written into the violin part, “With desire and passion.” It’s no wonder that the orchestra is exhausted after each performance.

The third movement abandons the traditional scherzo in favor of the waltz, which Tchaikovsky loved and employed so well. Its feeling is carefree and pastoral, until the “Fate Motif” appears at the end, as if a reminder that fate can still overshadow joy. (Play on violin {A} for 4 measures) One of the difficulties for a string player is to play a quick passage that has the bow bouncing off of the string. In Italian, this is called, Spiccato. Tchaikovsky has such a passage in this movement. It sounds like this: (Play on violin after {D} 4 measures.)

The finale, in which Tchaikovsky almost lost faith, is really the key to the meaning of the work. It opens with a transformation of the “Fate Motif," but immediately the music rebels in the trumpet and French horn, quietly rather than defiantly. Finally, the motif returns for the first time in a major key, initially in the strings, then the brass. The struggle has triumphantly won out and there is acceptance on some level by Tchaikovsky.
(C.D. excerpt #8 & #9 Beginning and Allegro Vivace)

As a violinist, I love to play anything by Tchaikovsky. The music is a challenge and the never ending supply of melodies is nourishment for the musical soul.

(Q. and A. if time allows and Meet and Greet)

I would like to thank you for sharing part of your evening with me I hope that we can do it again soon.

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