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First Symphony, versions

Does anyone know whether the orchestral parts of the First Symphony which are deposited at the Library of the Moscow Conservatoire are in any kind suitable for reconstruction of the first version (1866)?

Thank you for your help.

Best wishes

Wolfgang Eggerking

Yes, I believe so. The Russian musicologist Aleksandr Komarov, in his 2003 article «Рукописные партии сочинений Чайковского» ('Manuscript parts of Tchaikovsky's compositions') discusses this set of parts, which was used for peformances of the symphony from 1866 up to 1883, and incorporates all the changes made during this period.

"Examination of these parts — especially from the point of view of present researchers — reveals the original version of the symphony and reflects all the processes of transformation of the text from 1866 to 1883. There might be characterised an underlying tendency to make the work more dynamic. In this regard thematic changes were made (in the 1874 version there was a new secondary theme in the first movement) and large sections were excised (chiefly in the finale). In the parts these are indicated by excisions or pasted insertions. In some parts, but not in others, there are an execptionally large number of insertions of new variants over the old (in some instances up to three sets). There are countless notes by unidentified persons in red, blue and ordinary pencil — on the one hand concerned with large cuts, yet also involving minute alterations to individual notes, ligatures, bar rests, etc.). These layers of notes represent corrections made to the orchestration during preparations for performances in 1866 and 1868, and, apparently, in 1883".

It should also be noted that a manuscript copy of the symphony's 1868 version was discovered in 1949, and fragments were published eight years later vol. 15A in the Soviet edition of Tchaikovsky's complete works (see note 13 in the work history). I used this source to reconstruct the full score of the 1868 version, which was performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in February last year as part of BBC Radio 3's Tchaikovsky Experience. Unfortunately I understand there are no plans to release this recording commercially.

However, the Moscow orchestral parts were not consulted for the Soviet complete edition, and they will doubtless shed further light on the origins of this symphony. We might expect them to be taken into account in the New Complete Edition of Tchaikovsky's works, being prepared jointly by Schott in Germany and Muzyka in Russia. The volume containing the Symphony No. 1 was advertised as 'in preparation' back as far as 1995, but the outcome of this meticulous study has not yet appeared in print.

Brett Langston

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