Piano Concerto No. 3
(Фортепианный концерт № 3)
Op. 75 (1893).
The Third Concerto for piano with orchestra is a reworking of the first movement of the unfinished Symphony in E♭ major, on which Tchaikovsky worked in 1891–92. After completing sketches of the Sixth Symphony in May 1893, Tchaikovsky wrote from Berlin to his brother Modest that he needed to orchestrate the symphony during the summer, and to put the concerto in order and orchestrate it . On 23 June/5 July, at Grankino, Tchaikovsky set to work on the exposition of the piano concerto. The basic sketches were completed on 1/13 July 1893 at Grankino, and further developed at Ukolovo by 10/22 July 1893 (according to the dates on the manuscript).
At first, the composer intended to use all the sketches from the symphony in order to write a concerto in three movements. But after completing the reworking, he considered that the concerto had turned out to be much too long. Because of this, he decided to make it a one-movement work. In a letter to Aleksandr Ziloti, Tchaikovsky wrote: "Since it has turned out to be disgracefully long, I have decided to confine it to just one movement, and to call it Allegro de concert or Concertstück" .
In a letter from Tchaikovsky to Vladimir Davydov of 27 September/9 October, we read that the composer has "taken up the instrumentation of the piano concerto" . On 3/15 October this work was entirely finished (according to the date on the manuscript).
In the view of the author, the concerto "hasn’t turned out too badly as music—but it’s a thankless task! If that should be Taneyev's opinion then, perhaps, I shall destroy it forthwith" . On 8/20 October in Moscow, Tchaikovsky showed the concerto to Sergey Taneyev, but despite the latter's harsh criticism that the concerto was not sufficiently virtuosic, all the same he did not destroy it .
The concerto was not published during Tchaikovsky's lifetime. In late June/early July 1894, Sergey Taneyev, at Modest Tchaikovsky’s request, began to review the manuscripts that Tchaikovsky had left behind . In September the same year an agreement was concluded with Pyotr Jurgenson to publish the concerto. By 3/15 October the concerto had been engraved .
On 18/30 December 1894, Sergey Taneyev wrote to Modest Tchaikovsky: "The full score of the Concerto No. 3 is ready (I have one copy)" . It had been intended that Taneyev should play the concerto on the first anniversary of Tchaikovsky's death, but evidently the performance could not take place because the full score and parts were still not ready.
The concerto was performed for the first time on 7/19 January 1895 in Saint Petersburg, with Sergey Taneyev, conducted by Eduard Nápravník. In his diary for 7/19 January 1895, Taneyev noted: "Played well, but had little success. Called back only once" .
Besides the full score of the concerto, Pyotr Jurgenson published an arrangement for two pianos and four hands in November 1894, and the orchestral parts in March 1895.
Музыкальное наследие Чайковского (1958), pp. 335–337
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The origins of the concerto can be traced back to the Symphony in E♭ major, on which Tchaikovsky worked in 1891–92, but later abandoned. By the spring of 1893, it seems that he had decided to rework three movements from the abandoned symphony into a piano concerto. However, this process was not begun until he had completed sketches for the Symphony No. 6. On 15/27 May 1893, the composer told his brother Modest of his intention to orchestrate both the new symphony and the concerto during the summer (letter 4934).
The following month, Tchaikovsky started to convert his earlier sketches for the abandoned symphony into the new piano concerto. On 23 June/5 July he began working on movement I, the sketches for which were completed on 1/13 July at Grankino (dates on MS). The other two movements were completed in outline on 10/22 July 1893, according to a note on the sketches.
After orchestrating the symphony, Tchaikovsky began to score the concerto on 27 September/9 October 1893 (letter 5047), and completed the first movement on 3/15 October (date on MS). However, he had already begun to have doubts about the work, of which he wrote to Aleksandr Ziloti on 1/13 August: "Since it has turned out to be disgracefully long, I have decided to restrict it to just the first movement, and to call it Allegro de concert or Conzertstück" (letter 4994). Yet it seems that Tchaikovsky may have changed his mind once again, since at the end of the Allegro brillante, he noted: " End of 1st movement". We may never know the composer's final intentions, since immediately after completing it, he left directly for Moscow, and then for Saint Petersburg, where he died on 25 October/6 November 1893.
Thus Tchaikovsky left movement I in full score, and rough drafts for movements II and III. The latter were later completed and orchestrated by Sergey Taneyev, and published separately under as the Andante and Finale.
The Tchaikovsky Handbook, vol. 1 (2002), pp. 213–214
This page was last updated on 15 February 2013