Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem
(Торжественная увертюра на Датский гимн)
Op. 15 (1866).
Composed and scored in November 1866 in Moscow. Commissioned from Tchaikovsky by Nikolay Rubinstein for the forthcoming celebrations of the marriage of the heir to the Imperial Throne, Grand Duke Aleksandr Aleksandrovich, and the Danish Princess Dagmar .
The official celebrations were due to take place at the end of 1866. It is not possible to establish when composition of the overture was begun. On 8/20 November 1866, Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother Anatoly: "The Dagmar overture is completely finished, but, it seems, her visit to Moscow has been postponed until April, and consequently I have rushed unnecessarily" .
The celebrations took place between 23 April/5 May and 30 April/12 May 1867. Whether the overture was performed at that time has not been established. However, by this time it had already been performed in Moscow, in the Hall of the Nobles' Society on 29 January/10 February 1867, at a concert in aid of families of the victims of the war in Crete, conducted by Nikolay Rubinstein. The overture was not performed in any concerts of the Russian Musical Society that season. On 12/24 April 1867 in the newspaper The Voice, "Rostislav" in his article ‘A brief look back at the concert season’ wrote: "in the original programme an overture by Mr Tchaikovsky was advertised... It was decided that Mr Tchaikovsky’s overture, which combines the themes of the Russian and Danish national anthem, should not be performed because the talented young composer, for some unknown reason, set our Russian national anthem in the minor key, which completely transforms the character of this well-known tune" .
An arrangement of the Overture for piano duet was made by the author. On the first page of the manuscript copy of the arrangement, the author has written: "Pyotr Ivanovich! I don't know whether you want to print this arrangement for piano duet that I did a while ago of the overture on the Danish Anthem. I’ve just come across it by chance. I very much like this overture. I’m sending it to you with Op. 6, with the inscription. P. Tchaikovsky". The arrangement appeared in April 1878, published by Pyotr Jurgenson.
In connection with the publication of the full score of the Overture, Tchaikovsky wrote on 10/22 May 1892 to Pyotr Jurgenson: "Once more I must apologise for the Danish Overture. My excuse is that I didn’t know that you were going to engrave it. I’ve had the manuscript since the winter, and saw that it needed quite a while to put in order, and for want of time I abandoned the idea of publishing the overture and sending it back to you—well, that’s my story. Anyway, now I’m reviewing it just once more. I think it’s something that will enter the repertoire because it is, as I recall, very effective, and in musical terms far better than 1812" .
Музыкальное наследие Чайковского (1958), pp. 276–277
This page was last updated on 12 February 2013