Tchaikovsky's massive problem
These days, Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto is one of the most popular pieces of music. However, this wasn’t always the case.
Musicians, critics, and audiences at first detested it. Tchaikovsky dedicated it to Iosif Kotek, who refused to play. Kotek felt it would ruin his career.
Tchaikovsky then dedicated it to the great Leopold Auer, who also refused to play it.
He finally convinced violinist Adolph Brodsky to give its premiere. The reviews were scathing. The influential critic Eduard Hanslick famously wrote, “brought us face to face with the revolting thought that music can exist which stinks to the ear … the violin was not played but beaten black and blue.”
Years later, audiences from Russia to the USA to Taiwan love this concerto. Tchaikovsky would be shocked to learn how loved his composition is.
The story, unfortunately, repeats itself for his Swan Lake, which was initially a failure as well.
What can we learn from this?
Bold new compositions challenge convention. But, because the masses follow convention, these compositions are appreciated and understood by a select few.
The same goes for bold new ideas. Remember how Blackberry laughed at the iPhone? Hotels looked down at Airbnb? And people thought Uber was crazy?
What might you do to convince that early adopter on your team to champion your bold idea?
Thanks for caring!
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