The life and music of André Tchaikowsky: A series of performances, an analytical survey of his compositional style, and a critical/performance edition of the Sonata for Piano
This thesis focuses on André Tchaikowsky (1935–82) – a Polish émigré musician who was mostly recognised as a brilliant pianist, even though he considered himself primarily a composer. His traumatic childhood spent in bombarded Warsaw during World War II, losing his mother along with almost his entire family due to the Holocaust, and being hidden in several places after escaping the Warsaw Ghetto, made a great impact on creating his eccentric and complex personality as well as his artistic outcome. Tchaikowsky’s legacy of seven published works, including compositions for piano, two string quartets, a piano trio, and an opera, as well as several unpublished works, is a small but very significant body of 20th-century music. This research explores the evolution of Tchaikowsky’s compositional style throughout his lifetime, based on selected works with piano, and investigates the elements of war stigma in his compositions. Significant contributions to the existing body of knowledge are the analysis of the selected works and a critical/performance edition of the unpublished Sonata for Piano, written in 1958 by the 33-year-old composer. Some answers can be provided to three main research questions through this analytical survey. The questions are: How did Tchaikowsky’s compositional style evolve over his life? Why does he remain largely unknown even in music circles? How did the Holocaust affect his life and work as a composer and pianist? This thesis consists of two parts, with the first presenting the result of research into the stylistic development of Tchaikowsky’s compositional language and a critical/performance edition of the Sonata for Piano, while the second is a performance component comprised of five recitals, which is the prevailing element of this degree. Each recital includes one of the analysed Tchaikowsky compositions, which are connected with other composers and their works in various ways, shaping five concerts of engaging and under-performed music.