Composers anecdotes

To fool, or be fooled, by a name

One of Tchaikovsky’s favorite anecdotes resulted from his nearly losing the sketches for the Little Russian on the way back to Moscow. To persuade a recalcitrant postmaster to hitch the horses to the coach in which he and his brother Modest had been travelling, Tchaikovsky presented himself as “Prince Volkonsky, gentleman of the Emperor’s bedchamber.” When they reached their evening stop, he noticed his luggage missing—including his work on the symphony. Fearing the postmaster had opened the luggage and learned his identity, he sent someone to fetch it. The intermediary returned empty-handed. The postmaster would only release the luggage to the prince himself.

Steeling himself, Tchaikovsky returned. His luggage had not been opened, much to his relief. He made small talk for some time with the postmaster. Eventually, he asked the postmaster’s name. “Tchaikovsky”, the postmaster replied. Stunned, the composer thought this was perhaps a sharp-witted revenge. Eventually he learned “Tchaikovsky” was really the postmaster’s name. After learning this fact, he delighted in recounting the story.

Brown, David (1978) Tchaikovsky: The Early Years, 1840-1874. New York: Norton, p.254.  Cited in the Wikipedia entry: Symphony No. 2 (Tchaikovsky)

By Greg

Australian composer and pianist