Romeo and Juliet, Tchaikovsky, and Doomed Passion

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<!-- missing image --> <!-- missing image -->The other night I revisited Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy Overture to Romeo and Juliet.  I’ve heard it a hundred times.  The music is still entralling and powerful. It builds slowly until the melody is released, like a beautiful butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.  It is one of the most rapturous melodies in classical music, and certainly one of the most romantic.  But it also has a feeling of inevitable tragedy.  Their love is doomed due to forces beyond their control. It makes me think of Pyotr (Peter) Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  Were his impossibly beautiful melodies the result of his inner turmoil?  It is fairly certain that Tchaikovsky’s inner tumult was sublimated into his passionate music.  The grain of sand in the oyster, the grit that produces the pearl.   He received financial patronage from an anonymous woman, which ended shortly before his death; he was forced to marry to offset the rumors of his homosexuality; the marriage was disastrous.  He drank unboiled water during a cholera epidemic, making many think he committed suicide in a fit of despair.  He was a public figure and could not be open about his homosexuality, let alone have a relationship. Late 19th century St. Petersburg society would never condone it.  And so his love was impossible and doomed as, just like the famous lovers in the Shakespeare tragedy.  He died when only 53.