Nadezhda Philaretovna von Meck was a wealthy Russian widow of 45 when she first heard Tchaikovsky's music, appropriately a symphonic fantasy called The Tempest. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the work, she decided to use part of her large fortune to support the composer, who was 36 at the time. Thus ensued a vast correspondence between the two, stretching from 1876 to 1890, when von Meck stopped sending Tchaikovsky money, for reasons that remain obscure.
She steadfastly refused to meet the composer (a refusal with which he was in agreement), though they did occasionally make eye contact at concerts or at the opera house. Once they even came face-to-face in the street, but both turned away, embarrassed.
In 1893, three years after his last letter to Nadezhda von Meck, Tchaikovsky died from cholera. Within three months his "Beloved Friend," too, was dead.
Their extraordinary correspondence is the basis of the next Chamber Music PLUS production, Confidentially, Chaikovski. Author/cellist Harry Clark blames the nonstandard spelling of the composer's name on the Library of Congress; he'll probably justify it, and offer lots of other tidbits, in his pre-performance talk starting 30 minutes before the show.
That performance is slated for Sunday, Jan. 27 at 3 p.m. at the Berger Center for the Performing Arts, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. (on the campus of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind). Harry Clark and Sanda Schuldmann will play music for cello and piano by Tchaikovsky and other like-minded composers. Tchaikovsky and von Meck will be portrayed by Richard Thomas and Michael Learned, performing together for the first time since The Waltons. This could be our most in-demand show of the season, so obtain your tickets now by calling 400-5439. You can find out more about the show and its featured performers, and order tickets online, here.
Looking ahead to next month, Chamber Music PLUS announces an exciting collaboration with Ballet Tucson and the Tucson Guitar Society to present the new theatrical portrait Passionately, Piazzolla! as part of the inaugural Tucson Desert Song Festival.
Astor Piazzolla was a legendary composer and godfather of Tango Nuevo, a revolutionary new genre in which jazz rhythms and classical music were infused into tango. In this world premiere, the emotionally charged life of Piazzolla is portrayed through live music, voice, acting and dance. It promises to be a feast for the senses filled with visual drama, lush movement and passionate music and song.
Dancers from Ballet Tucson lead a stellar ensemble in this exciting theatrical experience with book by Harry Clark and innovative choreography by Chieko Imada and John Dahlstrand. The Tucson Guitar Society is delighted to present Misael Barraza Diaz in two works by Piazzolla, and making his Tucson debut is the renowned Argentinian vocalist and guitarist Brian Chambouleyron. Portraying Piazzolla is TV and motion picture star Robert Beltran, known for his performance as Raoul in Paul Bartel's cult film Eating Raoul and for his role as Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager.
Performances run Feb. 15-17 at the Temple of Music and Art. You'll find more information and be able to purchase tickets online here.
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