Seminar Series

Our mind is an abyss which delights in depths profound…
We love mystery, under whatever form it comes.
— Honoré de Balzac

Love Spiritualized:  The Epistolary Romance of Tchaikovsky and Nadezhda Von Meck

Monday, April 30th, 5:30-7:30

At CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave., Room 9204

A seminar with Anne Swartz, Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Baruch College and professor in the Ph.D. program in musicology at the Graduate Center, and James Melo, Senior Editor at RILM Abstracts of Music Literature and musicologist with the Ensemble for the Romantic Century. 

The 13-year relationship between Tchaikovsky and his patroness Nadezhda von Meck, conducted entirely through letters, was one of the strangest stories in the history of Romantic music. Their spiritualized romance will be discussed within the context of music patronage in Russia, Tchaikovsky's conflicts about his homosexuality, his failed marriage, and Nadezhda's unflinching admiration for him and his music, with a detailed discussion of her unusual role in the composition of the ballet Sleeping Beauty. The highly unusual patronage of Tchaikovsky will also be examined in relation to the composer's artistic development and Nadezhda's influence on the direction of his career.

For more information about the seminar, contact or call 212-817-8606.

More Information on our Seminar panelists

Anne Swartz is Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at
Baruch College, and a member of the faculty of the Ph.D. program in musicology at The Graduate
Center of the City University of New York. Her research interests include Russian and Polish
romanticism and modernism, especially the music of Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov,
eighteenth-century women composers, and Russian piano history. She continues to conduct archival
research in Poland and Russia and is the author of critical editions of the keyboard works of Maria
Szymanowska, and articles and chapters on piano artisans in 19 th -century Russia. Her recent
publications include “Music, the Economy, and Society: Szymanowska’s Career Path in Russia in the
1820s,” in Australian Slavonic and East European Studies (2009), and “Shostakovich: the Personal
and Public Face of the Composer and his Music,” in The Russian Review (2009). She is the author
of the forthcoming book, Piano Makers in Russia in the Nineteenth Century, a project which received
funding from the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and she
is a contributor to the forthcoming collection, “Musique et opéra en Russie et Europe central (XIXe-
XXe siècles).” She was the recipient of Baruch’s Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished
Teaching, and has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities,
the American Council of Learned Societies, the International Research and Exchanges Board, and
the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

James Melo has written extensively for scholarly journals and music magazines in Brazil, Uruguay,
Austria, and the United States, and has been invited to participate as a panel discussant in
conferences in Indiana, New York, and Canada. He has written program notes for several concerts at
Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and for over 60 recordings on the Chesky, Naxos, Paulus, and
Musikus labels, among others. He is the New York correspondent for the magazine Sinfonica in
Uruguay, reviewer of music iconography for the journal Music in Art, and senior editor at RILM
(Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) at CUNY. In March 2005, he chaired a session in
the conference Music’s Intellectual History, organized by the Barry Brook Center for Music Research
and Documentation (CUNY), and presented a paper on the history of musicological research in
Brazil. He received a grant from the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel, Switzerland, where he conducted
research on the manuscripts of Anton Webern. Mr. Melo is the program annotator for the recording of
Villa-Lobos’s complete piano music and Camargo Guarnieri’s complete piano concertos on Naxos.
He has written program notes for all of ERC’s original productions and authored several scripts. In
2006, Mr. Melo began collaborating with the Montréal Chamber Music Festival as musicologist and
program notes writer. In March 2008 he chaired a session on music iconography in Brazil and
Portugal in the conference Music, Body, and Stage: The Iconography of Music Theater and Opera at
CUNY Graduate Center.

About our Seminar Series

With each concert production ERC hosts a seminar. This series of seminars at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), in partnership with the Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation, fulfills one of the founding principles of ERC: merging performance and musicological research in order to enrich the musical experience of the listener through a variety of interdisciplinary discussions. Each seminar centers on a discussion of music in relation to an extra-musical context (literature, philosophy, visual arts, cinema, and others) that is pertinent to the parallel ERC theatrical concert. Scholars from a wide range of disciplines are invited to participate in the seminars, offering the audience an opportunity to engage in intriguing, illuminating, and aesthetically revealing perspectives about the subject matter.

The seminars are free to the public and are held one to two weeks before the concerts.