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Lyric Fest Presents Tchaikovsky's Biography in Music


Lyric FestShakespeare, Mozart and Tchaikovsky are all easily recognizable names in art and culture, but the stories behind these popular figures are less known. That is why Lyric Fest, an organization dedicated to connecting people through song, established the Biography in Music series. The most recent part of the series offered audiences a deeper understanding of the life and music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893). On Sunday, February 28th, Lyric Fest presented Pyotr Ilyich Tchaivoksky's Biography in Music at The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

The program featured newly published correspondences from Tchaikovsky’s archives, favorite as well as lesser-known vocal arias, songs and romances performed by leading vocalists, including tenor Michael Fabiano, and guest pianist Ghenady Meirson. All works on the program were sung in their native Russian. For this reason, Lyric Fest cast two Russian singers: mezzo-soprano Tatyana Rashkovsky and baritone Anton Belov, as well as Russian-born pianist Ghenady Meirson, a vocal coach at The Academy of Music and The Curtis Institute where he annually produces highly popular Russian Romance programs.

Lyric FestTo create the program, Lyric Fest directors delved into Tchaikovsky's massive correspondence archives, bringing forth intimate details of his life. "Many will be surprised to discover how late he came to composing, and how quickly his nascent talent exploded into mature musical compositions," comments co-founding Artistic Director Suzanne DuPlantis. "From the time that he began his formal study of harmony at aged 21 to writing his first orchestral work was a scant year and a half."

Tchaikovsky's life tells the story of a troubled artist.  He was plagued by mental struggles, fatalistic tendencies, and misanthropy, as he juggled a deeply committed family life with homosexual life. Despite mental and societal obstacles, he worked tirelessly at bringing forth the music that was inside of him. 

His biography is documented in his family letters and in the epic-scale 13-year long correspondence-relationship with his patron, baroness Nadezhda von Meck, whom he never met, a relationship unparalleled in the history of music. To her he revealed the in-depth process of his composing, the programmatic ideas behind his works, opinions about other composers, as well as details of his everyday life. 

The program was held in the majestic sanctuary of The First Presbyterian Church at the corner of 21st and Walnut Streets. With great acoustics, the space was intimate enough for the audience to feel a part of something special, and regal enough for the program to stand out. It was also an interesting space to be present in while listening to the biography of a man who grappled with religion, failed marriage, and homosexuality. 

For more information on Lyric Fest and upcoming programs, please visit their website at: http://www.lyricfest.org/.

Lyric Fest’s next program is their annual family concert: UNPLUG! on May 22-23, featuring a mini-opera and the renowned Keystone Boy Choir. All ages welcome.


Photo (Right): Tatyana Rashkovsky and Michael Fabiano performing the Duet of Olga and Lenski from “Eugene Onegin”; Ghenady Meirson at the piano.

Photo (Left): Singers (left to right) Jessica Julin, Tatyana Rashkovsky, Michael Fabiano, Anton Belov during quartet from “Eugene Onegin”; Ghenady Meirson at the piano.