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Russian culture minister: ‘There is no proof that Tchaikovsky was gay’

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  1. The Nazis used to make films with large parts of history removed too! I fear that this is what’s happening, the re-writing of history. In my opinion you’re entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

    1. Indeed – in the 1930s Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, then a very popular oratorio and the story of a major Jewish revolt against the Seleucids, was performed in Germany recast as Wilhelm von Nassau!

    2. But Tchaikovsky wrote the following to his gay brother Modeste!

      “I am now going through a very critical period of my life. I will go into more detail later, but for now I will simply tell you, I have decided to get married. It is unavoidable. I must do it, not just for myself but for you, Modest, and all those I love. I think that for both of us our dispositions are the greatest and most insuperable obstacle to happiness, and we must fight our natures to the best of our ability. So far as I am concerned, I will do my utmost to get married this year, and if I lack the necessary courage, I will at any rate abandon my habits forever. Surely you realise how painful it is for me to know that people pity and forgive me when in truth I am not guilty of anything.” See following post.

      1. The above paragraph continues:

        “How appalling to think that those who love me are sometimes ashamed of me. In short, I seek marriage or some sort of public involvement with a woman so as to shut the mouths of assorted contemptible creatures whose opinions mean nothing to me, but who are in a position to cause distress to those near to me.”

        The above, direct from Tchaikovsky himself, means that no further evidence is necesssary to prove that Tchaikovsky identified as homosexual.

  2. No, Oscar Wilde wasn’t gay either, or Alan Turing, or Michelangelo, or Leonardo da Vinci or Caravagio or Alexander the great, Sir Francis Bacon – the scientist – and the painter, Rimbaud, Proust, Jean Cocteau, Alexander von Humboldt, or even the famous russian ballet dancer Nureyev. Gay men who have obviously never intellectually given anything to the world.

    Just shows how stupid, and how little the Russian culture minister has read about Tchaikovsky’s well documented gay life.

    1. Good list, though some of them were bi. My uni LGBT society considered coming up with a T-shirt covered with the names of great LGBT figures, with the tagline “Did you think they were all straight?” We had enough composers for a separate T-shirt.

      I remember a Tchaikovsky concert I went to as a teenager. The programme notes were all about how his marriage broke down after three months because he was in love with his nephew. This was in the days before they repealed Section 28, and they still managed it. I remember being really struck by it, because it was the first time I’d really encountered LGBT issues in music being discussed. My school was busy straightening out everyone, even Shakespeare (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” was written to a woman, we were taught!), apart from when my head of music told us grimly, of the opera Peter Grimes, “Of course, it’s all about homosexuality, really.” I was outraged, because it’s not, it’s about child abuse, but I didn’t dare say a word.

      1. At my university we did a t-shirt that had a list of about 7 names, in black, with ‘and me’ in red.

        This was a while ago: most people, less informed than we were, thought we were making claims about talent, not sexuality – !

  3. Denying Tchaikovsky was gay is like denying Sappho was a lesbian. Completely absurd.

    1. actually, it’s more absurd, since we know more about Tchaikowski’s homosexuality and his life than we do about Sappho.

    2. Sappho was bisexual. Read her poetry. But substitute “queer” or “LGBT” and I’m right there with you.

  4. That There Other David 18 Sep 2013, 7:43pm

    If their Culture Minister knows so little about culture I wouldn’t take their Health Ministers advice about which hospital to visit.

    Russia is now beginning to turn itself into a laughing stock. Good.

  5. Ah yes. Big, bearded, bonking, butch Tchaikovsky. The terror of the ladies. 114 illegitimate children, world heavyweight boxing champion, and author of the best-selling pamphlet, “Why I Like To Do It With Girls”.

    (With apologies to the writers of Blackadder)

  6. This seems like a non-story converted to a story by the Russian culture minister’s denial of Tchaikovsky’s gayness. It’s as if he thinks being identified as gay is schoolyard name-calling or an accusation.

    It would be worth testing this further by highlighting to Medinsky that Yuri Gagarin was a big queen. I mean, why else would he have wanted to sit on a huge rocket and be ejaculated into space?

  7. Russia, where rewriting history is more important than making it

  8. All Russian ministers and department heads are deeply educated persons, aren’t they? Aren’t they?

  9. Oh, for the love of God! I don’t think there’s a shadow of doubt about Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality – I don’t have the sources to hand, but I believe – apart from all else – there’s his correspondence with his also-gay brother Modest that is pretty telling (the obvious discretion required by the era having been taken into account).

  10. Also, given that he was a hugely successful and widely-admired composer who died aged 53, there’s scant justification for describing him as a “lonely old man.”

  11. Dimitris T 18 Sep 2013, 9:47pm

    Since Putin admitted Tchaikovsky was gay, the minister should rather agree!

  12. The screenwriter Yuri Arabov is also gay, but closeted. In the 1980s he and Aleksandr Sokurov made one of the most homoerotic films of the Soviet era, called Days of Eclipse.

  13. Russia is getting silly now.

    1. “Getting”….? “now”…?


    2. “On second thought, let’s not go to Russia. It is a silly place.”

  14. While he is at it the Russian culture minister might remind Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church that there is no proof that Jesus was straight.

  15. Christopher Coleman 19 Sep 2013, 5:20am

    Looks like revisionism continues to be a vital part of the Russian intellectual landscape.

  16. Colin (London) 19 Sep 2013, 8:06am

    My goodness how Russia shows it’s insecurities so easily.. Sad really…Some one tell me why they are involved as a world power…Oh because they have atomic bombs…nothing else. Why is Pakistan not one?

  17. Precisely why we need gay history being taught alongside black history in UK schools.

  18. “Lonely old man who failed to marry”? Tchaikovsky married in 1877. (It lasted less than three months *because he was gay*.) He died at thre age of 53, hardly elderly. It’s worrying how Russia is blatantly denying easily provable facts. Other people may think this is funny. I think it’s frightening.

    1. You’re quite right, in this day and age such revisionism is extremely frightening.

  19. Things are getting REALLY scarey in Russia now. Hitler employed a whole department to re-write Germany’s history to remove the emense contribution Jewish people had made to its culture and economy.

  20. ” Oh, those Russians….” (Boney M. / Rasputin)

  21. They didn’t have Tzars either !!!

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