Tchaikovsky Spectacular

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Itzhak Perlman, conductor
Kian Soltani, cello

Sunday, August 18, 2019
2:30 PM
Donor Gates Open
3:00 PM
Public Gates Open
5:00 PM
Concert Starts

Tickets: $125 / $35
Lawn: $10

Ravinia Wine Club
Sponsored by Terlato Wines
3:30 p.m. in the Tree Top restaurant porch
Select the "Wine Club" ticket for this add-on at checkout


All-Tchaikovsky Program
Symphony No. 4
Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello and orchestra
1812 Overture (with cannons)

About The Artist

Kian Soltani

Program Notes

  • Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote his Fourth Symphony in the depths of emotional turmoil, having realized the toxicity of his marriage only after exchanging vows. After a hasty dissolution, he despaired at the pall it cast over his hopes of happiness and saw the hand of Fate at work—not unlike the Fate that beckoned from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Tchaikovsky created his own “Fate” motif and wove it throughout his Fourth Symphony.
  • Even more so than Ludwig van Beethoven, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky could comfortably focus on composition and not have to make ends meet with other musical activities thanks to the support of wealthy patrons—in Tchaikovsky’s case, the singular Nadezhda von Meck. Though they specifically never met, Meck cared for Tchaikovsky like family, assisting him in quickly dissolving his ill-fated marriage. As especial thanks, Tchaikovsky dedicated his Fourth Symphony to her, a gesture he never repeated.


  • In the 1964 dark comedy What a Way to Go!, Paul Newman plays an overworked avant-garde artist who invents a machine that creates paintings based on the music it hears. Fate rears its head when he begins playing Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony for the machine—it violently turns on him and widows his spouse, played by Shirley MacLaine.
  • As much as Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky admired and emulated Ludwig van Beethoven, he was more outspoken about his reverence for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, especially in his to Nadezhda von Meck. The influence is especially heard in his Variations on a Rococo Theme—though the theme is a Tchaikovsky original, he wrote it in the Rococo (late Baroque) style.
  • Though Antonio Stradivari is most famous for making violins—which account for more than four-fifths of the estimated 1,000 string instruments he crafted—he also made 70-some cellos, many of which are still in use today. Tonight’s soloist, Kian Soltani, has recently begun playing on a Stradivarius cello dating from 1694, not long after the luthier had solidified his lasting style.
  • Ravinia has held a “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” every year since 1979, and since the following year—the 100th anniversary of the 1812 Overture—live blasts from historical replica cannons have been a part of Ravinia’s signature performance of the 1812, exactly as Tchaikovsky wrote it.
  • The 1812 Overture rivals Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in volume and breadth of references across pop culture, from the title character of TV’s Frasier and his brother Niles, both self-styled snobs, wondering if they were “ever so young” as to enjoy the 1812, to Calvin of the comic Calvin and Hobbes marveling at the use of cannons in its performance.

Park Details

Experience Ravinia's KidsLawn
at today’s concert!

3:00 pm-4:30 pm

For select concerts, including today’s, our new interactive, family-friendly space on the north lawn will be open for you to experience with your children. Today's KidsLawn offers an instrument petting zoo, arts & crafts, and live performance activities in addition to our large-scale percussion instruments that will be open to kids of all ages.  See a full listing of KidsLawn dates.


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