A roll of the timpani ushers in one of the most famous piano fanfares in the orchestral repertoire. The woodwinds then introduce the sprightly main theme, which is repeated and embellished by the piano soloist.
A warm, singing second subject is introduced by the cellos and likewise taken up by the soloist and extensively developed. The two themes form the core of the movement. The tender, pensive slow movement opens with muted strings. The piano introduces the main theme. This short movement serves as a sort of prelude to the finale, which follows without pause.
The opening theme of the energetic finale is a Norwegian folk dance, the halling. This main subject, a rondo refrain, will be heard several times in the movement, alternating with other material. A slower middle section features an ethereal melody for flute, expressively developed by the soloist. That theme returns triumphantly, in brassy splendor, at the end for a grand conclusion.
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I love it as I have never loved any single one of my other creations. Tchaikovsky was the most autobiographical of composers, viewing his own music as a means of intimate personal disclosure. At age 53, and though outwardly successful, Tchaikovsky apparently no longer wished to strike a heroic pose. The Sixth Symphony is dominated by nostalgia, grief, resignation and thoughts of death. Some, in fact, have seen the symphony as a farewell note.
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Tchaikovsky felt tremendous guilt over his sexual orientation; it was the source, some biographers argue, of his chronic bouts of depression. Tchaikovsky lived in a 19th century Russian society where homosexuality was punished by public disgrace, loss of civil rights and possible exile to Siberia.
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In the Sixth Symphony especially, the composer was at the height of his abilities and in complete control of his powers of expression. If the Fourth and Fifth symphonies are loved for their overwhelming sense of affirmation, the Sixth is cherished for its dramatic intensity, poignant melodies and sympathy for the shared fate of all humanity. Out of the depths of the orchestra, a solo bassoon introduces the main theme of the first movement. Bitter Sweet Press Release. The Chris Moyles Show. Johnny Vaughan.
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