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BBC Documentaries: Season 2010

2010x07 Tchaikovsky: Fate

  • 2010-02-20T21:00:00+00:00 on BBC
  • 60 mins
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary, Special Interest

The first of two films by Christopher Nupen about the music and the artistic preoccupations of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky covers the period from the first tentative stirrings of Tchaikovsky's musical talent to the composition of his opera Eugene Onegin and the disastrous failure of his marriage to Antonina Milyukova.

It looks at the women who fired his musical imagination in the early years, from Katerina Kabanova in his first orchestral work, The Storm, to his dearly loved Tatyana in Onegin. There are, however, natural correspondences with the women in his private life - his mother Alexandra, his governess Fanny Durbach, the Belgian opera singer Desiree Artot, Antonina Milyukova and his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck.

Up to the time of his marriage the prime source of inspiration for much of his best music lay in Tchaikovsky's deep identification with the fate of his vulnerable young heroines. All through his life he was preoccupied with the idea of fate and in the beginning it was the fate of these young women that touched him most - Katerina in The Storm, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Francesca in Francesca da Rimini and above all Tatyana in Eugene Onegin. His identification with Tatyana was so complete that it had a direct influence on his decision to marry Antonina Milyukova with such unhappy consequences.

The film features Cynthia Harvey and Mark Silver, both principal dancers with the Royal Ballet, as well as Welsh soprano Helen Field and Swedish Soprano Clarry Bartha. The music is performed by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy.