Detroit Today

Tchaikovsky's Complex Life Reflected In An Emotional Body Of Work

Thursday, February 12, 2015

DSO Maestro Leonard Slatkin

Occasionally the Detroit Symphony Orchestra concentrates its performances on a single composer, painting a symphonic picture of life through a body of work. This year the DSO performs the works of Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

From meager beginnings, to the tragedy of cholera, to questions surrounding his sexuality and death, Tchaikovsky lived an extraordinary life reflected in his many works.

DSO Maestro Leonard Slatkin says Tchaikovsky stands apart from his Russian contemporaries. He says many Russian composers in the 19th century embraced a Russian nationalism in their art, but Tchaikovsky was interested in a westernized sound that was more broadly patronized.

"As we entered the 20th century," says Slatkin, "another aspect began to take over and that was one of color; the idea that music encompassed more than just harmony and melody and rhythm. Tchaikovsky was somewhere in the middle of all this."

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra's 2015 Tchaikovsky Festival begins today and runs through March 1st.

WDET's Laura Weber-Davis produced this interview with Slatkin.