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The Celesta Mustelas written for by Tchaikovsky


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#1 innopac

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 05:51 PM

I am hoping someone can help with the following questions.

Wikipedia says that the celesta is a transposing instrument and sounds an octave higher than the written pitch.

Yet the celesta parts for The Voyevoda (symphonic ballad) and The Nutcracker seem to be written at actual pitch which would mean the musician would have to transpose the part down an octave. Otherwise, a couple written notes are actually beyond the range of the Celesta Mustel.

Does this mean that the celesta parts for Tchaikovsky are written at actual pitch?

What about later composers?

Also, we have seen the letter where Tchaikovsky writes and asked Petr Jurgenson to get the new instrument he has seen in Paris, the Celesta Mustel, for use in The Voyevoda. Does anyone know of any other references in letters or diaries about Tchaikovsky and the celesta?

#2 innopac

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 06:24 PM

In case someone else comes across this problem I have been told the following:

The celesta is a transposing instrument and it sounds an octave higher than the written pitch.

However, if the performance music has been edited at a time when celestas were difficult to obtain the music will be written for a pianist to play and will be written at the sounding pitch.
This means if this sheet music is then used by a musician playing a celesta he will have to transpose down an octave.

I have been told there are recordings of Tchaikovksy's Voyevoda where the celesta is being played at the wrong pitch because of this confusing situation.

#3 innopac

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 07:45 PM

Does anyone know how Tchaikovsky came to know about the celesta?

#4 rg

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 07:58 AM

Tchaikovsky's finding the celesta, abroad, and having it sent 'secretly' back to Russia, has been written about, if mem.severs, variously - most of the biographical studies: Wiley, Brown, etc. mention it.

#5 innopac

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 11:37 AM

Thanks for the leads, RG. Will follow them up. We have found two letters and a mention of a third which deal with the sending the celesta back to Russia. What I am trying to find out is how Tchaikovsky came to know about the celesta when he was in Paris.


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