Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man by Alexander Poznansky

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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

"This is not a study of Tchaikovsky’s music. This is a study of the man who wrote the music. It could be called the story of a soul finding itself.”

So writes Poznansky in his preface, and he realizes his promise by concentrating on the composer’s shame and indecision regarding his sexual orientation and on the role Tchaikovsky’s fantasies played in fulfilling his need for intimacy. Although Tchaikovsky married Antonina Milyukova, a student at the Moscow Conservatory, the relationship proved a disaster. The composer’s true love focused on his nephew, and Poznansky includes in this biography numerous revelations from Tchaikovsky’s letters to his brother, Modest, concerning the composer’s fascination with homosexuality.

Perhaps most intriguing is Tchaikovsky’s relationship with his aristocratic patroness, Nadezhda von Meck, a woman whose financial support and tumultuous correspondence sustained him for more than thirteen years, despite the fact that Tchaikovsky and von Meck agreed never to meet. The fact that the composer could sustain and could be sustained by such physically distant passion bespeaks an imagination capable of creating the music that elevated Tchaikovsky to the position of the most musically emotional, as well as the most publicly celebrated, composer of his era.

TCHAIKOVSKY: THE QUEST FOR THE INNER MAN, recounts along with revelations concerning his personal life, the composer’s meteoric rise from his life as a civil service songster to his professional launch as Anton Rubinstein’s protege. Poznansky’s book succeeds by reaching beyond the realm of music to encompass universal human concerns.