Soviets Warm Up to Celebration of Tchaikovsky

From Associated Press

Nearly 3,000 people packed a concert hall and hundreds stood outside in freezing weather Saturday for a Tchaikovsky anniversary concert featuring American violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo Yo Ma and soprano Jessye Norman.

Loudspeakers projected the 1812 Overture and other works by the Russian composer onto Leningrad’s snow-covered Artists Square on the 150th anniversary of his birth.

“You know, my dear, I am so tired of living in this mess--all these congresses, demonstrations, decrees and rationing. Here, for an hour or so, you can forget about all that,” said 89-year-old Anna Smolina, who stood outside in minus-14 degree temperatures to hear the two-hour concert.

In keeping with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s original score for the 1812 Overture, church bells rang and 16 cannon from South Bend, Ind., boomed.


The concert was broadcast on television across the Soviet Union and to an estimated audience of 25 million people in more than two dozen other countries. It is scheduled to be shown later this year in the United States on PBS, according to Kim Smedvig, an assistant to the concert’s organizer.

The concert began with the orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise. Perlman then played the Serenade for Strings, followed by the Waltz-Scherzo.

Soviet pianist Boris Berezovsky, winner of the 1990 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, played the 3rd movement from the 2nd Piano Concerto; Norman sang three songs for voice and piano; the orchestra played a movement from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6, the Pathetique, and Ma played the Rococco Variations for Cello.