24 March 2015

Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony ("Pathetique")

 I heard excerpts from this first movement last week while watching an old movie ("Now Voyager") and thought it deserves a place in the blog.
The second theme of the first movement formed the basis of a popular song in the 1940s, "(This is) The Story of a Starry Night" (by Mann Curtis, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston) which was popularized by Glenn Miller. This same theme is the music behind "Where," a 1959 hit for Tony Williams and the Platters as well as "In Time," by Steve Lawrence in 1961, and John O'Dreams by Bill Caddick. All four songs have completely different lyrics.

Excerpts from Tchaikovsky's Sixth can heard in a number of films, including Now, Voyager, the 1997 version of Anna Karenina, The Ruling Class, Minority Report, Sweet Bird of Youth, Soylent Green and The Aviator. It has also accompanied the cartoon The Ren & Stimpy Show, specifically the episode 'Son of Stimpy' where the eponymous cat walks out into a blizzard. In addition, Tchaikovsky's Sixth is featured in the sci-fi video game Destiny, during the mission The Last Warmind, in which the player must defend Rasputin, an old planetary defense system.

Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony has also been featured during the 2010 Winter Olympics closing ceremony, being danced by Russia's national ballet company. Tchaikovsky's Sixth plays a major role in E. M. Forster's novel Maurice, where it serves as a veiled reference to homosexuality.

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