As the world continues to watch in horror the Russian invasion of Ukraine, nations around the world have rushed to cut ties with Russia in all its forms. This includes the cancellation of concerts by one of Russia’s most famous composers.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky lived from 1840 to 1893 and wrote some of the most iconic music in history. His compositions include the ballet Nutcracker, which has become a staple of the Christmas season. Tchaikovsky also wrote the music for the ballet Sleeping Beautywhich Disney later adapted for an animated musical in 1959, as well as the 1812 Openingone of the most performed pieces of music in history.
Also of note: although Russia, especially under the Soviet regime, went to great lengths to deny it, biographers largely agree that Tchaikovsky was gay. He had a relationship with Sergey Kireyev, whom he met at university, as well as violinist Iosif Kotek. By contrast, Tchaikovsky’s marriage to a woman, Antonina Miliukova, was a total disaster and lasted only about two months.
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The current social media outrage against Tchaikovsky stems from a number of orchestras pulling his work from concerts planned following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Both Chubu Philharmonic Orchestra of Japan and the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra of Wales announced that they had canceled scheduled performances of 1812 Opening in response to the invasion.
Predictably, the performance cancellation sent right-wing Twitter into a frenzy, as users bemoaned “cancellation culture” and liberal overreach. Conservative commentators Ben Shapiro, George Galloway and Douglas Murray all took to Twitter to protest the two local incidents.
For the record, we don’t for a moment believe that two local orchestras canceling performances somehow means that Tchaikovsky and his music will be boycotted indefinitely. Yet some people need to rage in the face of a lack of sympathy for Russia and its imperialist aggression. You also have to wonder if these people realize that Tchaikovsky was homosexual.
Take a look at some of the craziest answers…
Liberals Under Trump: Stop Saying Wuhan Flu! It’s racist and violent!
Liberals Under Biden: Boycott Ukrainian-Owned Restaurants With Russian Names! Cancel the Russian musicians! Stop playing Tchaikovsky!
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 9, 2022
Irony. Tchaikovsky was one of the first (and only) composers to eschew Russian nationalism and try to integrate his music with the West. Moreover, he died more than a century ago. We have lost our minds. https://t.co/98dtHTNZpo
— Billy Binion (@billybinion) March 9, 2022
Banning/abandoning Tchaikovsky is just crazy. There are tough judgments to be made right now. Playing the music of long-dead Russians is not one of them.
—Jonathan Jones (@SirJJQC) March 9, 2022