Idiots from History. Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto no 1 and Nikolai Rubinstein. Don't disrespect a genius.
Good Fame, and Bad Fame.
Some idiots from history.
How many times in history have there been people whose only claim to fame for posterity is to be on record for disrespecting the genius of somebody else, especially when that person was only at the start of their career.
We all have heard of the studio executive who said of the great Fred Astaire, after Fred had done an audition.
"Can't act, cant sing, but can dance a little"
How stupid that man must have felt in later years. I don't even know his name, but I am sure if I did it would be only for his crass unforseeing remark.
Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg thought he was a very important man in his day, but now he is only remembered as the man who ordered, (literally) his chamberlain to kick Mozart downstairs, because he couldn't respect him as an artist.
Tchaikovsky, his Piano Concerto No 1, and Nikolai Rubinstein.
The man that I want to write about today was a gentleman by the name of Nikolai Rubinstein.
Mr Rubinstein was the Director of The Moscow Conservatoire of Music, when Tchaikovsky was one of the teachers.
Peter Tchaikovsky was one of the up and coming musical lights in russian music in the middle of the nineteenth century. His overture Romeo and Juliet had already been performed to critical acclaim, so he knew a thing or two about writing good sounds.
But he decided to try more extensive composition, so he wrote his Piano Concerto in B flat minor, which was his first venture into such a long piece.
When he had finished the composition he decided to show it to his boss, and to play the first movement for him.
Tchaikovsky was expecting to get perhaps a bit of constructive criticism from the great "Maestro Rubinstein"., and probably a fair amount of praise as well.
But things did not work out that way. When the young composer asked the older man what he thought of his concerto, he was shocked by the reply.
"Absolutely unplayable rubbish. You must rewrite the whole thing under my direction"
was the verdict of the esteemed Director of The Moscow Conservatoire.
The composer was so insulted by the verdict, and so annoyed, that he said.
"I am not going to change a single note. It shall be published and performed exactly as I have written it".
And that is what he did.
Nikolai Rubinstein. Music's Idiot from History.
Nowadays when people speak of the beauties of Russian music, or the greatness of that countries composers, the Name Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky is the foremost on their lips, and when they wax lyrically about the music of that immortal genius, his glorious first piano concerto is the one most of them remember.
It was a sensation when it was first played, and it has remained the most popular, and often played piano concerto ever, and that is without any input from "Maestro Rubinstein".
If you speak to any classical musician today, and ask them who Nikolai Rubinstein was, the answer will be.
"Oh! That,s the guy who told Tchaikovsky that his first piano concerto was rubbish"
That is all he is remembered for.
The moral of the tale should be that, you might think you are a big noise, but be careful how you judge other people, or their works.
It might come back to haunt you.
Judge for yourself. Who was right?
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