This question has bothered me for some 20 years and I, finally have the
perfect site for those who might be able to answer it.
In Act 3, Scene 1, in the Gremin Castle, a Polonaise and a Ecossaise is
danced (in some versions like the Bychkov Philips recording the Ecossaise
is omitted entirely). The scene wraps up with either the reprise of the
Ecossaise or a 25 second different dramatic ending.
I have never heard that there was a revision of this opera and I have
heard different endings of this scene many times. Did Tchaikovsky actually
write 2 endings depending on whether a ballet was utilized or not?
Does anyone know the answer to this perplexing question?
Thank you all so very much!
The Ecossaise wasn't part of the original score of the opera, and it
was added for the St. Petersburg revival in 1885. Our
work history for Onegin
includes the following explanation:
"In the 1891 edition [of the full score] the tempi observations were
changed; a cut was made in the finale of Scene 4; and in Scene 6 a
chorus was replaced by the Ecossaise, which Tchaikovsky wrote at the
request of Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the
Director of the Imperial Theatres for
Saint Petersburg, in 1885.
A letter of 10/22 August 1885 from
Pavel Pchelnikov has come
down to us in which Vsevolozhsky
sets forth the reasons why a new dance number was required for the
Saint Petersburg ball scene. On 21 August/2
September 1885, Tchaikovsky wrote to
Pyotr Jurgenson: "I've had
a meeting with Vsevolozhsky,
who asked me to write a dance number for the second ball in Onegin. Given
that new decorations and costumes are currently being fitted out for this ball,
and given also that they are taking so much trouble to ensure the success of Onegin, I could not refuse, in spite of my disinclination, and I agreed
to fulfil Vsevolozhsky's
request. We had a long discussion about the kind of dance that was to be added
until, finally, we settled on an Ecossaise…"
It's nearly always the version with the ecossaise that's performed and
recorded nowadays, but just occasionally conductors catch us by surprise!
Hope this helps,