Skip to main content

Global Overview Magazine

Revista de actualidad política, religiosa, económica, social, cultural, científica y educativa con alcance internacional
ISSN 2618-1916

An interview dedicated to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff as examples of cultural diplomacy

The interview was prepared by Irina Chepaykina

Special for

 Once again about geniuses

"Music is the universal language of mankind," -said once American poet and

translator Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), but can language of

creators of the past bring countries and nations closer together? Denis

Andreevich von Meck, founder and President of the Nadezhda von Meck

International Charitable Foundation, tells us about symbols of Russian classical

music as examples of cultural diplomacy.

- There are many definitions of cultural diplomacy. What does this concept mean

for you personally?

- From my point of view, cultural diplomacy is an activity that helps to establish

relations between representatives of different countries and nationalities through

intercultural dialogue as well as knowledge exchange in the field of literature,

music, cinema and theater. In that case persons of culture and art become

representatives of their country - not professional diplomats.

- Can great creators of the past help modern nations better understand and get to

know each other?

- I think anything that brings people together can be a good starting point. Music

has some advantages over literature and poetry since it does not require translation.

Any soloist or orchestra can be heard not only on the stage of a concert hall, but

also in a high–quality recording and one can easily share his or her opinion about

the performance after hearing, including with music lovers from other countries. It

is quite easy to move from music and culture topics to historical facts or even

everyday life – one just need a desire to hear the conversation partner.

- On the 11 th of October you told the guests of the Grand Hall of the Moscow

Conservatory about intertwining destinies of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

What, in your opinion, unites these composers besides their homeland and

brilliant talent? Why did their names become musical symbols of Russia?

- Your question contains a statement which is completely in line with my personal

and public opinion. The music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Sergei Vasilyevich

Rachmaninoff is distinguished by exceptional sincerity and lyricism. Remember

how the Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30 by Rachmaninoff and Concerto

No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra in B-flat Minor, Op. 23 by Tchaikovsky sounded on

the stage of the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory … It turned out to be very

interesting to explore the intertwining of personal and musical destinies of the two

composers and I hope to make many more discoveries along the way!

- I have no doubt that the performance of the Symphony Orchestra of the State

Philharmonic of the Altai Territory conducted by Dmitry Luzin as well as

wonderful pianists, laureates of international competitions Alexander

Lubyantsev and Elena Drozdova will remain in the memory of listeners for a

long time…Denis Andreevich, why do you think Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff

are dear to representatives of different mentalities and nationalities?

- Probably, everyone will answer this question in his or her own way. It seems to

me that there is so much warmth, cordiality and creation in their music that human

heart simply cannot help responding to its beauty. All this is valuable and

sometimes vital for modern people, regardless of mentality, temperament and

nationality. And of course, it is always a joy for a Russian person to hear quotes

from the musical folklore of his or her native country in classical melodies. In

addition, descendants of Russian emigrants in the second and third generation can

consider "news" from the motherland, including music, to be simply priceless. I

think that music can be called an instrument of cultural diplomacy in this context

as well.

- Do you plan to continue working on the topic of cultural (musical) diplomacy

on the example of P. I. Tchaikovsky and S. V. Rachmaninoff in terms of

educational activities of the Nadezhda von Meck International Charitable

Foundation? If so, in which format?

- Of course, I will try to use every opportunity to tell the audience about life ways

and works of the two geniuses of Russian music. I hope this topic will arouse

interest not only in various cities and regions of Russia, but also in Kazakhstan,

where I plan to give several lectures in the twenties of October.

- Which books, articles and films would you recommend to those who want to

learn more about the composers themselves and therefore better understand

their music?

- There are about 200 biographies of the most performed composer in the world –

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. I would like to recommend the readers a monograph

"Tchaikovsky: a brief sketch of life and work" written by an outstanding

musicologist Ekaterina Alexandrovna Ruchevskaya; works of a famous Russian

musicologist, an employee of the Moscow Conservatory and the State Institute of

Art Studies Nadezhda Vasilyevna Tumanina; books and articles written by a Soviet

musicologist, Doctor of Art History, Professor Elena Mikhailovna Orlova as well

as a biography "Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky" and a unique book "Tchaikovsky’s

Spiritual Journey" by a senior researcher at the Tchaikovsky House Museum in

Klin, Honored Worker of Culture of the Moscow Region Galina Stepanovna Sizko.

In my opinion, these works deserve attention primarily because they are based on

historical facts and are distinguished by respect for private life of the genius who

was an exceptionally modest and delicate person himself. As for feature films, so I

really like and often mention in my public speeches a movie called "Tchaikovsky"

directed by Igor Talankin. This film is remarkable also due to a constellation of

outstanding actors: Innokenty Smoktunovsky, Antonina Shuranova, Vladislav

Strzhelchik, Evgeny Leonov, Alla Demidova ... Besides, I like a film called "The

Third Youth" (fr. La Nuit des adieux — "The Night of Farewell", 1965) dedicated

to creative partnership of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and a French dancer,

choreographer Marius Petipa. It is interesting that the Frenchman understood

Russia very deeply, not least with the help of the most famous Russian composer.

As for contemporary documentary works, so I was lucky to participate in the

filming of a television movie called "Tchaikovsky. To my best friend" (https://von- ) in a historical place - the city estate of E. I. Vasilchikova - S. A.

Obolensky - N.F. von Meck on Gogolevsky boulevard where the Russian Central

Chess House is located nowadays. The film attracted people interested in history

and art so much that I managed to find volunteers who translated it into English,

Italian, Spanish, Bulgarian, Serbian and Japanese, and the titles in Chinese and

German will be ready soon. By the way, modern technologies can identify the

country where a video hosting 1 visitor lives automatically and offer him or her

titles in the appropriate language.

I would advise those who want to learn more about the personality, life and work

of Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff to pay attention to a collection called

"Memories about Rachmaninoff" in two volumes edited by Zaruya Apetovna

Apetyan (Moscow: Music, 1988) as well as a book called "Rachmaninoff: a

chronicle of life and work" written by Doctor of Art Studies Vera Borisovna

Valkova (Tambov: The Museum-estate of Sergei Rachmaninoff «Ivanovka»,


1 A web service that allows users to download and watch videos in a browser, for example, with a special player.

- Denis Andreevich, thank you for continuing conversation about the two

Russian geniuses. I want to believe that music will always be not only the

universal language of mankind, but also a bridge between countries and