Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man

Alexander Poznansky, Author Schirmer Trade Books $39.95 (679p) ISBN 978-0-02-871885-9
This monumental 656-page biography is probably the fullest, most revealing account to date of Tchaikovsky's private life. Poznansky identifies the death of the composer's mother as a shattering experience for young Pyotr Ilyich, a source of deep existential melancholy. His hypersensitivity, forged by a child's feeling of paradise lost, would manifest in neurosis, insomnia and depressive fits marked by ``a sense of insurmountable terror.'' A Yale University librarian, Poznansky explores the composer's obsessive fear of death, his idealized relationship with eccentric, free-thinking patron Nadezhda von Meck, the fiasco of his brief, unconsummated marriage, and his involvement in a homosexual subculture that simultaneously fascinated and repelled him. Drawing on Russian sources, the author refutes the theory that Tchaikovsky's death in 1893 at age 53 was a suicide forced upon him by a conspiracy of former classmates. ``The story of a soul finding itself,'' this remarkable book casts only an indirect light on the relationship between Tchaikovsky's life and art, as the author omits extended discussion of the music. Photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1991
Release date: 12/01/1991
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Paperback - 978-0-02-871886-6
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