Posts By: George Rousseau

How much do we need to know about a composer’s life?

In Rachmaninoff’s Cape I repeatedly raise this question: how much do we need to know? The answer is a great deal. For example, you cannot understand why Rachmaninoff compulsively repeats the Dies Irae theme – the death chant – unless you understand his childhood and extraordinary tie to ‘the old Russia’.

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Nostalgia in the musical language of the late Russian Romantics

Colleagues and friends in Oxford attended, with me, the recent Met Opera performance of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. The opera opens with its heroine and her nurse in their secluded cottage deep in the Russian forest. Iolanta laments her condition – what condition? She sees nothing and knows nothing except that eyes are for crying. Yet she

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