Category Archives: Composers quotes

Tchaikovsky on Don Giovanni

Tchaikovsky, later in his life, reflected on hearing Mozart's Don Giovanni as a boy:

The music of Don Giovanni was the first to conquer me completely.  It awoke an ecstasy in me of which the consequences are known.  It gave me the key to the spheres of pure beauty in which the greatest geniuses soar.  Up to then I had known only Italian opera.  That I vowed myself to music is due to Don Giovanni … In this opera Mozart has put on stage an objectively tragic character, the most powerful and the most hallucinatory music ever created – Donna Anna. I simply cannot express what I felt when I saw this proud beauty appear, tragic and vengeful.  When she at last discovers Don Juan, the murderer of her father and her seducer, when her anger flares out in a recitative of genius followed by the slightest whisper of the orchestra, I shiver with horror, I want to cry aloud, to weep, to throw myself about, overcome by the strength of the impression given by the Master.

Cited in: Hanson, Lawrence & Elisabeth (1965) Tchaikovsky, London: Cassell & Company, p.30.