(1925 - 1996)
In a career that spanned the last half of the twentieth Century, the composer Boris Tchaikovsky towered high among his Soviet contemporaries. His work received unalloyed praise from the most prominent musical figures, Shostakovich, Rostropovich, Kondrashin, Barshai, and Fedoseyev, and was represented on more than twenty Melodiya LPs, few of which circulated outside the Soviet Union. In the West, however, where musical tastes favoured the avant garde, his music was largely overlooked. That climate of opinion has been rapidly changing. As more of his work is recorded on CD, Boris Tchaikovsky is becoming widely recognised as one of the most important Russian composers of our time.
His works from the 1950s, such as the celebrated Sinfonietta for Strings (1953), show that he was a traditionalist with forward-looking sensibilities. An extensive revamping of his style in the 1960s, coincident with the freer creative environment then emerging in the Soviet Union, led his music in fresh directions. Unlike the alienating rhetoric and the host of "isms" adopted by many of his contemporaries, Tchaikovsky's mature style maintained strong connections with its Russian roots. With its brittle lyricism, pronounced rhythmic features, and an expanded harmonic palette that never completely abandons tonality, the new style allowed him to take on a broad and at times exotic array of formal challenges. The result was a highly innovative, richly expressive body of work that appealed to a wide concert-going public.