Symphony in E flat (Tchaikovsky)


Symphony in E flat (Tchaikovsky)

Tchaikovsky's Symphony in E flat, op. posthumous, was commenced after the Symphony No. 5, and was intended initially to be the composer's next (i.e., sixth) symphony. Tchaikovsky abandoned this work in 1892, only to reuse much of it in the Third Piano Concerto and Andante and Finale for piano and orchestra.

A reconstruction of the original symphony from the sketches and various reworkings was accomplished during 1951–1955 by the Soviet composer Semyon Bogatyryov, who brought the symphony into finished, fully orchestrated form and issued the score as Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No 7 in E-flat major." [Wiley, Roland. 'Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il′yich, §6(ii): Years of valediction, 1889–93: The last symphony'; Works: solo instrument and orchestra; Works: orchestral, Grove Music Online (Accessed 07 February 2006), (subscription required). Brown, David. "Tchaikovsky: the Final Years (1885-1893)." New York: W.W. Norton, 1991, pp. 388-391, 497.]

Form

The Bogatyryov reconstruction of the E flat Symphony follows the traditional four-movement pattern:

#Allegro briliante
#:This movement was used for the Third Piano Concerto, post., Op. 75.
#Andante
#:Tchaikovsky's friend Sergei Taneyev used this music for the Andante for piano and orchestra, post, Op. 79. More recently, it was reused as the slow movement of a projected Cello Concerto.
#Scherzo
#:Perceiving that Tchaikovsky would have written a scherzo for this symphony, Bogatyryov orchestrated this piece from the Op. 72 piano works.
#Finale: Allegro maestoso
#:Taneyev used this music for the Finale for piano and orchestra, post., Op. 79

Performance

Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered and recorded the Bogatyryev reconstruction in 1962. Only four other conductors have recorded it: Neeme Järvi, Sergei Skripka, Kyung-Soo Won and Leo Ginzburg. [ [http://www.tchaikovsky-research.net/en/discography.html] www.tchaikovsky-research.net, April 2008]

The Need to Write ...

"I literally cannot live without working," Tchaikovsky once wrote to the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovitch, "For no sooner has some labor been completed ... there appears a desire to begin at once on some new labor.... [U] nder such circumstances this new labor is not always provoked by true creative necessity [Alexander Pozansky, "Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man" (New York: Schirmer Books, 1991), 552] ."

, but it was a further 18 months before, evidently on his return voyage from America, he jotted down a few preliminary ideas for what might become such a piece. More important still was a programme he roughed out, possibly at the same time: “The ultimate essence ... of the symphony is Life. First part – all impulse, passion, confidence, thirst for activity. Must be short (the finale death – result of collapse). Second part love: third disappointments; fourth ends dying away (also short). [David Brown, "Tchaikovsky: The Final Years (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992), 388] ”

During the following months, while at work on "The Nutcracker" and "Iolanta", he continued to note down further materials, but when at last he began systematic work on the piece, many of these and earlier ideas were discarded; nor was the programme to be used. Others were drawn in, however, progress was rapid, and by June 8, 1890, both the first movement and the finale were fully sketched. He had hoped to continue work in July and August, but further composition was delayed until October. Nevertheless, by 4 November the entire symphony was sketched, and within three days the first movement was scored up to the recapitulation [Brown, 388] .

Tchaikovsky had already offered to conduct the premiere of the symphony at a charity concert in Moscow the following February. However, after another enforced break, the composer took another look at the sketches and experienced total disenchantment. “It’s composed simply for the sake of composing something; there’s nothing at all interesting or sympathetic in it,” he wrote to his nephew Vladimir Davydov on December 16, 1892. “I’ve decided to discard and forget it ... Perhaps,” he added, though how he can hardly have realized how precisely, “the subject still has the "potential" to stir my imagination [Brown, 388] .”

Davydov's response came quickly and, to the composer's surprise, very strongly worded. In a letter dated December 19, 1892, Davydov wrote, "I feel sorry of course, for the symphony that you have cast down from the cliff as they used to do with the children of Sparta, because it seemed to you deformed, whereas it is probably as much a work of genius as the first five. [Alexander Poznansky, "Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man" (New York: Schirmer Books, 1991), 553] "

... Versus the Need to Express

Tchaikovsky gave up on the symphony because he now found the music impersonal, lacking the introspection Tchaikovsky felt a symphony needed urgently. He had no wish to continue making, as he said, "meaningless harmonies and a rhythmical scheme expressive of nothing [Lawrence and Elisabeth Hanson, "Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music"(New York: Dodd, Mead & Company), 356] "

However, Davidov's comments spurred Tchaikovsky to reuse the sketches instead of totally writing them off [Poznansky, 553] . The music may have meant nothing to him on a personal level emotionally, but that did not mean it was worthless. The main theme was highly attractive, skillfully worked out, extroverted. When worked out by a composer whose handling of such a theme could become a delight to hear and, for the musicologist, to analyze, the results could become extremely worthwhile after all [Hanson and Hanson, 356] .

More importantly, the composer did not abandon the thought of writing a new symphony based on the program he conceived. Though his efforts with the E flat symphony did not turn out as planned, they influenced his conception not long afterwards of what would become the "Pathétique" symphony. Tchaikovsky converted the symphony's first movement into a one-movement piano concerto (published as Opus 75); after his death, two other movements were completed in a piano concerto version by the Russian composer Sergey Taneyev, who added them to Tchaikovsky's first movement to produce a full-scale concerto. Known as "Andante" and "Finale," the Tchaikovsky-Taneyev movements are now known as Tchaikovsky's Opus 79.

References

* Brown, David, "Tchaikovsky: The Years of Wandering" (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1986)
* Brown, David, "Tchaikovsky: The Final Years" (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992)
* Hanson, Lawrence and Elisabeth, "Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music" (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company)
* Poznansky, Alexander "Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man" (New York: Schirmer Books, 1991)
* Poznansky, Alexander. "Tchaikovsky Through Others' Eyes" (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999)
* Warrack, John, "Tchaikovsky" (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973)

Notes

External links

* [http://www.tchaikovsky-research.org/en/Works/Unfinished/TH238/index.html "Symphony in E flat"] at Tchaikovsky Research.


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