'THE INFINITE GRACE OF JESUS': MASSENET'S 'MARIE-MAGDELEINE' AND TCHAIKOVSKY'S BLESSED TEARS

Esti Sheinberg, Marina Ritzarev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In July 1880 Tchaikovsky wrote three letters in which he described the great impression that Massenet's oratorio Marie-Magdeleine had made on him. Deeply moved by the duet between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, he composed a Romance to words by Alexey Tolstoy. This Romance became the second number of his Seven Romances, Op. 47. What did Tchaikovsky mean when he stated that he composed it 'under the influence' of Massenet's Marie-Magdeleine, and how is this influence manifested in his work? A close examination of several of these Romances and their comparison with parts of Massenet's oratorio leads to a new reading of Tchaikovsky's Op. 47, revealing its connections with the dramatic content: of Marie-Magdeleine. We suggest that the composer's emotional and spiritual world view affected his perception of Massenet's oratorio. The Seven Romances is interpreted not as a series of separate solo pieces, but rather as a coherent song cycle with a unique structure and semantic content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-197
Number of pages27
JournalMusic and Letters
Volume91
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2010

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