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The Seasons

I am revising my edition of The Seasons (Schirmer Performance Editions) for its second print, and have a couple of questions regarding the Opus number:

1) is there any specific reason for the Opus number in this cycle to be Op. 37a (or Op. 37bis), when it was composed before the Sonata Op. 37? I looked for this answer, and could not find a specific reason.

2) is it better to use Op. 37a instead of Op. 37bis, or are both correct?

When I was reading the info on The Seasons on your site, I noticed a small typo in the page 

In the fourth paragraph from the bottom it reads:

"In the surviving manuscript scores, only two pieces from The Seasons have epigraphs: By the Hearth (January)—to Pushkin’s poem Dream—and Lark Song (February)—to Apollon Maykov’s verses On the Volga. In both cases the epigraphs were written out by Nikolay Bernard, and not Tchaikovsky. None of the remaining pieces have epigraphs in the manuscript scores."

The Lark Song, however, is March, not February.

Looking forward to your reply,

Best regards,

Alexandre Dossin
09/08/2013 05:10

Dear Alexandre,

Firstly thank you for pointing out that correction needed on the page for The Seasons, which has now been made.

In answer to your question about the numbering, when Robert Forberg in Leipzig published The Seasons in 1880, they labelled it "Op. 37", despite the fact that the previous year Jurgenson in Moscow had already published Tchaikovsky's Grand Sonata with this number. The manuscript of the sonata has "Op. 37" written by the composer himself, whereas no opus number appears on the autographs for The Seasons, or in their original publication by Bernard in Saint Petersburg in 1876. So Forberg's "Op. 37" appears to have been a mistake.

When Rahter in Leipzig published a new edition of The Seasons  in 1891, they addressed this issue by using "Op. 37a", while ironically it was the Russian publisher Jurgenson (rather than the German), who used "Op. 37bis", apparently for the first time the year after Tchaikovsky's death. In practice both "Op. 37a" and "Op. 37bis" are equivalent of course, and the suffix serves to distinguish themselves from the Op. 37 sonata, and to clear up the confusion that had previously been caused by the duplicated opus number.

Hope this helps

Brett Langston
0/08/2013 10:05

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