TCHAIKOVSKY

Waltz Of The Flow­ers

Guitar Techniques - - TALK BACK -

Brid­get Mer­mikides ar­ranges and tran­scribes an in­fec­tious piece by the awe­some Rus­sian com­poser Py­otr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

In thIs In­stall­ment of our clas­si­cal col­umn we are go­ing to tackle a work by tchaikovsky (1840-93), a com­poser with a great tal­ent for pro­duc­ing widely ac­ces­si­ble yet tech­ni­cally so­phis­ti­cated melodies. so great is the pop­u­lar­ity of his works, that his many themes for ballet and orches­tra (in­clud­ing the 1812 Over­ture, his 6th sym­phony, swan lake, the nutcracker suite and the sleep­ing Beauty) are in­stantly recog­nis­able (and used end­lessly in film, TV and popular cul­ture) around the world.

as is not al­ways the case with the great com­posers, tchaikovsky did in fact have great suc­cess dur­ing his life­time. sadly how­ever, he suf­fered ter­ri­bly with de­pres­sion, feel­ings of worth­less­ness, in­tol­er­ance of his ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, and an un­happy mar­riage. In fact some be­lieve that his death at age 53 may be at­trib­uted to sui­cide. Yet within his mu­sic is a mag­i­cal, in­no­cent joy and that’s cer­tainly ev­i­dent in the beau­ti­fully en­gag­ing Waltz Of the Flow­ers, which I have ar­ranged here. this waltz is from act II of the mag­i­cal nutcracker ballet (1892) (and also in the orches­tral work nutcracker suite Op.71a) which re­ceived very mixed re­views at its pre­miere but is now a hugely popular and of­ten per­formed ballet (and orches­tral) work.

the Waltz Of the Flow­ers is heard in the ballet, as mag­i­cal flow­ers dance in hon­our of Clara, the pro­tag­o­nist, who has been led to the land Of sweets, by an an­i­mated wooden nutcracker toy. the whole ballet is full of Christ­massy magic and won­der, and this piece is no ex­cep­tion. tchaikovsky’s writ­ing has the sway of a Vi­en­nese waltz but its gor­geous melody and lush har­monies lend it an ir­re­sistible sparkle.

In or­der to get this huge orches­tral work pared down so that it will work for solo gui­tar I’ve made sure that the most im­por­tant the­matic and har­monic ma­te­rial re­mains in place. there­fore I’ve ar­ranged it for drop D tun­ing - which also main­tains the orig­i­nal key of D ma­jor.

While this piece needn’t be played par­tic­u­larly fast, main­tain­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate Waltz feel and le­gato melody may take quite a bit of work. the fret­ting hand gets a real work­out in ne­go­ti­at­ing the sus­tained melody and in­ter­jected chords, so re­fer to the tab cap­tions to get you through the trick­ier sec­tions. how­ever, once it’s fully un­der your fin­gers and you have started add your own ex­pres­sion to it, you’ll have a won­der­ful piece to add to your reper­toire.

Tchaikovsky was a com­poser with a great tal­ent for pro­duc­ing widely ac­ces­si­ble yet tech­ni­cally so­phis­ti­cated melodies.

Tchaikovsky: the much trou­bled mu­si­cal ge­nius

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