Serenade for Strings

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Painting by Alex Katsenelson

Today I’d like share with you Serenade for Strings by Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky. This piece was written for a strings-only orchestra in 1880. Tchaikovsky noted in in the score, “The larger number of players in the string orchestra, the more this shall be in accordance with the author’s wishes.” Tchaikovsky’s music usually drips with emotion; he was an incredibly emotional, neurotic person. (I wrote about him here.) Now combine that propensity with strings – the most emotional group of instruments (sorry drums, you are not even a distant second) – and you get the music that bursts with joy, sadness, love, loss….
 
The second movement (a waltz) is full of Tchaikovsky’s long melodies, with an occasional tiny sprinkle of Vivaldi. But movement three is my favorite. I connect with it; it is lyrical, with emotions bursting at the seams. It is the essence of 19th-century Russian culture. You can take this music and superimpose it over almost any literary work of Pushkin (especially Evgeniy Onegin) and get a pretty good glimpse into the Russian soul.

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