The chorus At Bedtime (На сон грядущий) (TH 70 ; ČW 65-66) was written by Tchaikovsky in 1863 or 1864 while he was a student at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. It exists in two versions — a cappella, and with orchestral accompaniment.
At Bedtime is scored for mixed chorus (SATB). The orchestra in the accompanied version comprises 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in C), 2 bassoons + 2 horns (in C), 2 trumpets (in G) + 2 timpani + violins I, violins II, violas, cellos, and double basses.
Both versions have one movement:
- Andante (C minor, 68 bars) — a cappella
- Adagio (C minor, 97 bars) — for voices with orchestra
In performance they last approximately 4 and 7 minutes respectively
The text comes from a poem of the same name (probably dating from the early 1840s), by Nikolay Ogarev.
Nothing is known about the origins of this composition. Sketches for the orchestral version are found on the last page of the manuscript of the unaccompanied version, indicating that the a cappella version was composed first.
No performances of the chorus are documented during the composer's lifetime.
Both versions of At Bedtime were published for the first time Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works: the unaccompanied version in volume 43 (1941), edited by Ivan Shishov & Nikolay Shemanin, and the orchestral version in volume 27 (1960), edited by Irina Iordan.
The manuscript scores of both versions are preserved in the Tchaikovsky House-Museum Archive at Klin (a1, Nos. 122 and 123).