Piano Concerto No.1 is
one of his best loved compositions. For technical advice on his piano
concerto, Tchaikovsky turned to his friend, Nikolay Rubinstein, the
great piano virtuoso. To his unpleasant surprise, Rubinstein
pronounced the work “worthless and unplayable.” However, several
years later, Nikolay admitted that he had been wrong, and performed
the concerto in Moscow.
work is best remembered for its huge, sweeping melody that launches it
and projects the magnificence of Imperial Russia. After the opening
melody, Tchaikovsky introduces a vigorous new theme that is thought to
be based on a Ukranian folk tune which reflects the dynamic rhythms of
The central section of the concerto is based on the old French
song, “Il faut s’amuser, danser et rire,” and was part of the
repertoire of Désirée Artôt, the French singer to whom Tchaikovsky
was briefly engaged. The fiery finale also has Ukranian origins,
whereby Tchaikovsky has actually quoted from the Ukranian song,
“Come, Come Ivanka.”
Rachmaninov. Piano Concerto No.1 was
his first completed concert work in 1890-91. The concerto was later
revised in 1917 just before Rachmaninov left Russia. Like so much of
Russian music, Rachmaninov’s first piano concerto has a brooding
expansiveness that seems to echo the vast open spaces of the Russian
landscape. Rich melodies are not dropped once they have done their
job, but are allowed to unfold gradually, like great storm clouds
tumbling through the sky. Rachmaninov benefited much from the
experience gained in composing his second and third piano concertos
which were written in the interval, so the revised version of Concerto
No.1 proved to be one of his best concertos.
Piano Concerto N.1.
1904, at age 13, young Prokofiev entered the St. Petersburg
Conservatory, taking with him four operas, two sonatas, a symphony,
and many other pieces.
His ten years at the
conservatory were not without problems because he already felt himself
a composer who needed little but polishing up. In 1910, his father
died and it became necessary for him to make his own way. Fortunately
in 1911 and 1913, he premiered his first and second piano
concertos-each causing quite a sensation-and his music appeared in
print for the first time. He graduated in 1914, winning the Rubinstein
Prize for a performance of his
Concerto No. 1.