Symphony No. 5, Finale by Tchaikovsky
No, this is not a mistake. I have purposely chosen Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony as my song of the week for two weeks in a row. I guess I just really love this song, and I hope all of you do as well!
When I posted this song last week, I didn’t hit on the primary motif as much as I wanted. If you read my post from last week, I mentioned that this piece reminds me of sadness beautifully and gracefully transforming into happiness. I strongly believe that that was, kind of, sort of, Tchaikovsky’s intent. He begins this symphony with that very same melody we hear at the beginning and end of this video. Except when we first hear it, it’s depressing and dark. He paints this image of a dreary, cold, stale day. I think of the setting in Orwell’s novel, 1984. I also think of the underworld, in Greek mythology.
However, by the finale, the melody has completely changed. And it’s this very fact that I find so beautiful and appealing about this piece. Tchaikovsky was certainly not the only composer to accomplish this brilliant feat, Beethoven and Brahms did it all the time - crafted distinct melodies that painted such illustrious pictures and evoked such feelings that lurked in the recesses of our minds. However, it was how Tchaikovsky did it. He used the same melody. And it’s that one melody that he presents to us, that metamorphosizes from this drab being, into this beautiful and majestic being. I say being, because by the end of the finale, at 10:06 to be exact, this melody is something more than just music. At that point, we literally hear that metamorphosis taking place.
Tchaikovsky was a very depressed man for most of his life, so his introduction to this symphony really doesn’t surprise me. However, like many depressed people, he longed to find happiness. He longed to find that sense of completeness. Unfortunately for him, he died a young man at about 50 years old, and even at his death, he never found that completeness. He was definitely an ideal romantic character. With that being said, his purpose behind this piece had to be a message to his audience – the idea that happiness can come from sadness, if we allow it to. We realize after the melody’s last appearance that the only reason it’s so beautiful, is because the key changed and the style changed. In all reality, it’s still the same depressing melody we heard in the first movement. Just take a listen to the first few minutes of the first movement.
So different, right? But really, everything needed to make that melody happy was there the whole time! It was just a matter of changing a few things around. We can use this lesson in our lives. Everything we need to feel happy or “complete,” is right there. We have the tools, we have the power, we just have to search. Once we find it, we have to learn how to use it. I don’t think anybody has ever mastered the power. I think it’s a power that we spend our lives trying to figure out, but never can totally figure it out. You’d have to be perfect to totally figure it out, and nobody is perfect! What counts, is that you put forth the effort to learn about and grow from that power. In other words, “change a few things around,” and see what happens!
I’d love to hear comments from others about this piece. How do you feel after listening to it?
-Live and love your life!
P.S. I’m trying the Monday thing now – just to add novelty in my life I guess. Hopefully it works out! Enjoy the rest of the week