With piano accompaniment, Op. 73 (1893).
No. 1. We Sat Together (Мы сидели с тобой)
No. 2. Night (Ночь)
No. 3. In This Moonlit Night (В эту лунную ночь)
No. 4. The Sun Has Set (Закатилось солнце)
No. 5. Amid Sombre Days (Средь мрачных дней)
No. 6. Again, As Before, Alone (Снова, как прежде)
The texts of the romances were first sent to Tchaikovsky in August 1892 by the author, Danyl Ratgauz, a student at Kiev University, then a stranger to the composer. The first of his letters to Tchaikovsky, which does not survive, included the poems We Sat together and (in all probability), Night. In a letter of 30 August/11 September 1892. Tchaikovsky wrote: "I am not sufficiently competent in literary matters to pass judgement on your examples or to dispel your doubts you might have. But, as to whether your poetry would be suitable for music—looking through your delightful pieces I would answer for myself in the affirmative. I cannot say exactly when I will be able to write music to some or all of your poems, but I can give you a firm promise that it will be sooner rather than later. One of them in particular cries out for music: We Sat Together. Generally, I should say frankly that I frequently receive many letters like yours (i.e. suggesting poems for music), and not once have I found it possible to reply with unqualified gratitude and sincere expressions of sympathy. I think that you possess true talent, but it would be better if an authority in matters of literary criticism confirmed my honest opinion" .
The character of the rough draft of the romance We Sat Together (No. 1) suggests that it dates from 1892 (perhaps at the time of the letter), and that at this time Tchaikovsky made sketches for the melody next to the first verse.
In his letter of reply of 26 September/8 October 1892, Danyl Ratgauz excitedly thanked the composer for his encouragement, and sent him a further five poems . The words of four of them (Amid Sombre Days, In this Moonlight, Again, as Before, Alone and The Sun Has Set, were subsequently used by Tchaikovsky when he composed the romances. A fifth verse—In the Beautiful Half-Light of the Wood—was not used.
The romances were written in 1893, after composition of the Eighteen Pieces (Op. 72) for piano, which were finished on 22 April. Tchaikovsky expressed his intention to write the romances on 5/17 February 1893 in a letter to Modest Tchaikovsky , but there is no further evidence to show exactly when the romances were begun.
Writing from Moscow to Modest Tchaikovsky on 22 April/4 May 1893, the composer set out his intentions: "I need to remain here for four days... then I want to go to Nizhny... so I will not be home before 30 April. And on 10 May I must, without fail, leave for abroad... probably, on the 3rd I shall be in Saint Petersburg. And manage to compose some romances as well" . After composing the Op. 72 pieces. Tchaikovsky embarked on a conducting tour. From 22 April/4 May he spent five days in Moscow. and on 27 April/9 May he attended the premiere of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s opera Aleko at the Bol’shoi Theatre. On 28 April/10 May Tchaikovsky left for Nizhny Novgorod , where he spent two days before returning to Moscow on 2/14 May , and then Kiev, where he stayed from 3/15 to 5/17 May. He had intended to leave for Saint Petersburg on 4/16 May and then to travel abroad on 5/17 May, as soon as he had written the romances. On this day (5/17 May), Tchaikovsky wrote to Pyotr Jurgenson: "I purposely allowed myself some free days at home, so that I could manage to copy out one more opus, namely six romances. Aleksey will bring them to you in a few days" . On the same day the composer informed Danyl Ratgauz that he had finished composing the romances: "I have just written six romances on your poems" . Another letter to the same recipient contains Tchaikovsky's only judgement on his latest romances: "I don't know what the fate of our romances will be, but I know that I wrote them with great pleasure" . Ratgauz replied with warm thanks and sent the composer eight more verses, which the composer did not use.
The romance We Sat Together (No. 1) was performed, apparently for the first time, on 20 November/2 December 1893 at the first Tchaikovsky memorial symphony concert in Saint Petersburg; the romances Amid Sombre Days (No. 5) and Again, as Before, Alone (No. 6) were performed by Mikhail Medvedev at the second symphony concert of the Russian Musical Society in Kiev on 4/16 and 6/18 December 1893.
The romances were printed for the first time by Pyotr Jurgenson in July 1893 . "Our romances are already printed—but they are still not for sale because P. Jurgenson has an agreement with a foreign publisher to wait until they are ready to publish them" .
All the romances are dedicated to Nikolay Figner.
Музыкальное наследие Чайковского (1958), pp. 460–465
This page was last updated on 14 February 2013