Night

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Tchaikovsky's quartet Night (Ночь) (TH 88 ; ČW 318) was written in March 1893 at Klin, and is an adaptation of music by Mozart.

Contents

Instrumentation

Scored for soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists, with piano accompaniment.

Movements and Duration

There is one movement: Moderato assai (B-flat major, 154 bars), lasting approximately 4 minutes in performance.

Text

The words were written by Tchaikovsky, attributed in the score only to N. N.".

Composition

The idea for a vocal quartet on Mozart's music seems to have occurred to Tchaikovsky in 1892, while he was living at Maydanovo, where Vladimir Nápravník had been playing through many piano works by various authors, including Mozart [1]. On 18/30 May 1892, Vladimir Nápravník wrote to Tchaikovsky: "I remember, dear Pyotr Ilyich, that recently you wanted to arrange some Mozart that you wanted to arrange as a quartet for singers. Did you do this or not?" [2]. In fact Tchaikovsky did not carry out his intention until 1893, at the beginning of March—the manuscript is dated "Klin. 3 March 1893" [O.S.]. The autograph is subtitled: "Music adapted from Mozart's Fantasia No. 4 and arranged by P. Tchaikovsky".

Performances

The first performance of Night took place at the Moscow Conservatory by members of Yelizaveta Lavrovskaya's student class on 9 October 1893, in the presence of the author [3].

Publication

The quartet was published by Pyotr Jurgenson in March 1893 [4]. In 1941 it was included in volume 43 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Ivan Shishov and Nikolay Shemanin.

Arrangements

In 1893, before Tchaikovsky's death, the quartet was orchestrated by Sergey Taneyev [5]. In a letter from Taneyev to Jurgenson of 19/31 January 1896, we read: "Have you found Night?... I don't want to send to my full score, with the inscription made by Pyotr Ilyich, to Saint Petersburg..." [6]. This orchestration of the quartet was performed for the first time on 6/18 November 1893 in Moscow, at the second symphony concert of the Russian Musical Society, with soloists Berta Abramova (soprano), Yevgeniya Zbrueva (alto), Mitrofan Chupynnikov (tenor) and Vasily Gepetsky (bass), conducted by Vasily Safonov. The full score of Taneyev's arrangement was published by Pyotr Jurgenson in the same year.

Autographs

Tchaikovsky's manuscript score is now preserved in the Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture in Moscow (ф. 88, No. 128).

Dedication

The quartet is dedicated to Yelizaveta Lavrovskaya.

Related Works

The music is based on the B-flat episode from the Fantasie No. 4 in C minor for piano, K.475, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Recordings

See: Night: Recordings

Notes and References

  1. Modest Tchaikovsky, Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1902), p. 655 [back]
  2. Letter from Vladimir Nápravník to Tchaikovsky, 18/30 May 1892 — Klin House-Museum Archive [back]
  3. See Nikolay Kashkin, Воспоминания о П. И. Чайковском (1896), p. 179–180 [back]
  4. Passed by the censor on 17 March 1893 [back]
  5. The manuscript of Taneyev’s arrangement, preserved in the Klin House-Museum, bears the date "Saint Petersburg. 27 March [18]93" [back]
  6. Letter from Sergey Taneyev to Pyotr Jurgenson, 6/18 November 1893 — State Central Archive for Literature and the Arts in Moscow. This manuscript includes a note to Boris Jurgenson: " Boris Petrovich! I am sending you the orchestration of the quartet Night, made by S. I. Taneyev. I think it would be an excellent idea to print it and the parts. P. Tchaikovsky, 28 March [18]93" [back]