Does this change your view of Tchaikovsky

Does this change your view of Tchaikovsky


norman lebrecht

May 09, 2021

The intrepid coloriser Hadi Karimi has applied his skills to the morose Russian composer.

Karimi is an Iranian visual artist who works across several social media and discloses no personal details.


  • marcus says:

    “Morose”? WTF?

  • Greg Bottini says:


  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    A dearly loved composer, in any colour at all!!

  • Andy says:

    Dazzling work. One wishes for less formal apparel (an open neck shirt without a cravat) and perhaps a bit of an occasional grin to see what composers would have looked like unplugged at a market or in a coffee shop. Nevertheless I love these portraits.

  • Hobbes says:

    Seriously? That was worth a post? (The answer is: no, of course not)

    • Obsessed With Classical says:

      Completely agree. Reminds me of when I first saw a pic of Respighi. I expected a glamorously refined man. I ended up thinking, “Who cares, his works are MIND-NUMBINGLY breathtaking.” Their body of WORKS are all that matter.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      With the dearth of real news in the classical music world (other than Anna, of course), journalists will write about anything. Prime example here.

    • Will Wilkin says:

      I just got a smile from it, definitely worth posting!

  • fflambeau says:

    One of the top five composers of all time. He doesn’t need colorization.

  • RW2013 says:

    He looked older than his 53 years at the end.

  • Genius Repairman says:

    Yes. His piano concerto no 2 has now improved in my estimation after looking at his colour portrait.

    • Herbie G says:

      Yes, Genius Repairman, this does shed lots of light on his music and proves for all time that he was white; did he have any serfs working for him?

      The Second Piano Concerto is magnificent but try the complete three-movement version of the Third Concerto from VOX with the great Michael Ponti at the ivories – it’s a corker!

      • Petros Linardos says:

        I wholeheartedly agree about the 2nd and 3rd piano concertos. They may not be as good as the first, but they are still grossly underrated. I also like a lot Jerome Lowenthal’s set of the Tchaikovksy’s complete works for piano and orchestra. It includes some other curiosities, all delightful.

  • Emil says:

    Who is the “intrepid coloriser” who did this work?

  • Bruno Michel says:

    Interesting. May we ask who the “intrepid coloriser” is? Does he/she have an internet site? Has he/she done it with other composers? It could be entertaining to see the results. Please do publish a link. It would be interesting to find out about the technique and technology the coloriser uses, and which pictorial sources they base themselves on for each subject.
    I see comments in this thread along the lines that this would not be a valid reason for a post: why do posts necessarily have to be about serious and “heavy” subjects? Why could we not have a post about mildly entertaining thing also, now and again?

  • Gustavo says:

    Somewhere between Verdi and Dvorak.

  • Zenaida says:

    Hadi Karimi has a whole spectrum of artists and composers. Fascinating how he studies death masks, paintings, etc. when trying to put together a realistic rendition. Well worth checking out his website, for example for his work on Mozart

  • David K. Nelson says:

    I will concede that a color photograph that looks modern, without the tell-tale signs of 19th century photography (colorized or not), does in some way make the subject, Tchaikovsky in this case, someone we might know and meet, so almost inadvertently we liken the image to someone we have known who most looks like this. If that’s what it takes to “change your view” of someone, well then, here it is.

    But to me it is not a particularly sympathetic portrait nor one which demonstrates certain key attributes of Tchaikovsky which so many of his contemporaries wrote about. Tchaikovsky looks distinguished here, aloof even, but it is said, for example, that Tchaikovsky exuded so much personal charm that people would follow him around on the street. I don’t see that in this portrait.

    Gustav Jenner (1865-1920), who found himself in the interesting position of having to choose whether to study composition with Tchaikovsky or Brahms (he chose Brahms), wrote of Tchaikovsky’s “bewitching charm” and how agonizingly difficult Tchaikovsky made that decision for him. Jenner chose Brahms because Brahms was so much more harsh.

    Very near the end of his life, Leopold Stokowski remarked that the thing he looked forward to most about dying was the chance to shake Tchaikovsky’s hand in heaven and thank him personally for the wonderful music. What Tchaikovsky looked like, or might have looked like, seems to have had nothing to do with Stokowski’s wish.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Another vote for Tchaikovsky’s second concerto in full, not Siloti’s cut version that Shura Cherkassky and Benno moiseiwitsch unfortunately played and recorded. Peter Donahoe, Igor Zhukov, Stephen Hough, Jerome Lowenthal got it right, and I’ll take Michael Ponti on faith, unheard.

    The slow movement becomes a piano trio with solo violin and cello, the finale is very Russian, and yes the swans come dancing in right on cue, as they do also in Sergei Bortkiewicz’s second concert in Hyperion’s Romantic piano concerto series. o

    • Vaquero357 says:

      Agreed: the butchered Siloti version will NOT do! (Tchaikovsky didn’t like it either and meant to do his own edit – but never got around to it.) After the first movement “assault of the killer piano,” the delayed entry of the soloist in the slow movement means the now caressing and lyrical piano makes a much bigger effect. Siloti – and pianists who play his verision – clearly didn’t get it. The original version of the movement needs no editing at all.

      My two favorite recordings: Igor Zhukov (Melodiya, issued in the West on an EMI LP and out on YouTube, at least the last time I checked) AND the one Natasha Paremski hasn’t made yet. (I heard her do it in Wichita a few years ago – a smart record company would get a recording made with her PDQ!)

      (I want to like Hough with the Minnesota Orchestra and Vanska…. but he seems earthbound and unromantic. Maybe I’m missing something?)

      Another *excellent* performance of the full version of the concerto with Alon Goldstein, the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern:

      It’ll be available for streaming for the next 3-4 weeks.

  • Alasdair Munro says:

    Can we have Hildegard of Bingen, in habit?

  • Alexander T says:

    Nice work.

  • fflambeau says:

    Derek, You are right about individual tastes in composers but I have no hesitancy in putting Peter Tchaikovsky near the top. Several outstanding symphonies, the top ballets ever written, perhaps the best piano concerto ever written, wonderful string music, delightful chamber music. That’s why I rate them this way: 1) Mozart 2) Bach; 3) Beethoven; 4) Tchaikovsky. But yes, it is up to the individual. As for colorization: not needed.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The man in the picture looks like an accountant who has just been discovered to have sluiced-away millions of his boss’ bank account into his own. Or as Tchaikovsky’s twin brother who had gone-out to buy a piece of Swiss cheese and happened to get the hole.