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A Russian composer known for his colorful and romantic music Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born May 7 1840 He was a composer of the Romantic Period-- a time when music acquired poeticphilosophical meaning In accordance with this focus on the arts Tchaikovsky was an extremely well-read and educated man Therefore it was only natural he write a musical interpretation of one of Shakespeares greatest tragedies Romeo and Juliet which I had the please of seeing performed by the RPO The Romeo and Juliet overture is done in sonata-allegro form and contains two major musical themes the Friar LaurenceCapulet Montague theme and the theme representing the love of Romeo and Juliet respectively This first theme is broken up into two parts The music begins as a solemn chorale much like the music used in the Russian Orthodox Church here obviously Tchaikovsky is musically representing Friar Lawrence This section starts off with a series of woodwind instruments leading to the strings and horns and coming full circle back to the woodwinds Tension begins to build as this part of the theme is repeated the opening wind chords become much faster over plucked strings The timpani is then added in making the tempo speed up leading into the second half of the first themethe struggle between the Capulets and Montagues Here Tchaikovsky brilliantly utilizes a break in the music filled by the crash of the cymbals to indicate a swordfight Flutes are added in to suggest the scurrying that usually takes place during a battle Fragments are passed between the woodwinds and strings to illustrate the scrape of metal on metal Such image painting is a characteristic mark of Tchaikovsky The first theme is then repeated and the tempo slows down decreasing the tension This is when the transition to the second theme Love theme occurs Like the first theme the second is also separated into two parts The first part is long and lyrical played on
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