Piano Concerto No. 3

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Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 3 in E-flat major, Opus 75 (TH 65 ; ČW 57), was begun in May 1893, and remained unfinished at the time of the composer's death on 25 October/6 November that year.

Contents

Instrumentation

The first movement is score for solo piano and an orchestra consisting of piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in B-flat), 2 bassoons + 4 horns (in F), 2 trumpets (in B-flat), 3 trombones, tuba + timpani + violins I, violins II, cellos, and double basses.

Movements and Duration

Tchaikovsky originally planned the concerto in three movements, each of which was adapted from the abandoned Symphony in E-flat major he had sketched the previous year:

I. Allegro brillante (E-flat major, 473 bars)
II. Andante (B-flat major, 215 bars)
III. Finale. Allegro maestoso (E-flat major, 332 bars)

At the time of the composer's death only the first movement had been completed, with the other two left in sketch form. The latter were subsequently completed by Sergey Taneyev and published as a separate work — the Andante and Finale, Op. 79.

The first movement lasts around 15 to 20 minutes in performance, and all three movements together last approximately 35 to 40 minutes.

Composition

The origins of the concerto can be traced back to the Symphony in E-flat major, on which Tchaikovsky worked in 1891 and 1892, but later abandoned. By the spring of 1893 it seems that he had decided to rework three movements from the abandoned symphony into a piano concerto; however, this process was not begun until he had completed sketches for the Symphony No. 6. On 15/27 May 1893, the composer told his brother Modest of his intention to orchestrate both the new symphony and the concerto during the summer [1].

The following month, Tchaikovsky started to convert his earlier sketches for the abandoned symphony into the new piano concerto. According to dates in the manuscripts he began working on the first movement on 23 June/5 July, and completed it on 1/13 July at Grankino. The other two movements were completed in outline at Ukolovo] on 10/22 July 1893.

On 1/13 August Tchaikovsky told Aleksandr Ziloti that the concerto "hasn't turned out too badly as music—but it's a thankless task! If that should be Taneyev's opinion then, perhaps, I shall destroy it forthwith" [2]. On 8/20 October in Moscow, Tchaikovsky showed the concerto to Sergey Taneyev, but despite the latter's harsh criticism that the concerto was not sufficiently virtuosic, all the same he did not destroy it [3].

However, he had already begun to have doubts about length of the work, about which he wrote to Aleksandr Ziloti on 25 September/7 October 1893: "Since it has turned out to be disgracefully long, I have decided to restrict it to just the first movement, and to call it Allegro de concert or Conzertstück" [4]. Two days later Tchaikovsky began to orchestrate the opening Allegro brillante [5], the completed score of which concludes with the date 3 October [O.S.] and the note "End of 1st movement", suggesting that Tchaikovsky may have changed his mind once again about the extent of the work. We may never know the composer's final intentions, since immediately after completing the Allegro brillante, he left directly for Moscow, and then for Saint Petersburg, where he died on 25 October 1893.

Arrangements

Tchaikovsky also arranged the first movement for two pianos (4 hands) simultaneously with the orchestration in September and October 1893.

Performances

It had been intended that Taneyev should play the completed first movement from the concerto on the first anniversary of Tchaikovsky's death, but evidently the performance could not take place because the full score and parts were still not ready. It was eventually performed for the first time on 7/19 January 1895 at the second Russian Musical Society concert in Saint Petersburg, with Sergey Taneyev, conducted by Eduard Nápravník. In his diary for 7/19 January 1895, Taneyev noted: "Played well, but had little success. Called back only once" [6].

On 11/23 June 1897 the work received its London première, with soloist Maud Gay conducted by Charles Villiers Stanford.

Publication

The concerto was not published during Tchaikovsky's lifetime. In late June/early July 1894, Sergey Taneyev, at Modest Tchaikovsky's request, began to review the manuscripts that Tchaikovsky had left behind [7]. In September the same year an agreement was concluded with Pyotr Jurgenson to publish the completed Allegro brillante as a concerto one movement. By 3/15 October it had been engraved [8], and on 18/30 December 1894, Sergey Taneyev wrote to Modest Tchaikovsky: "The full score of the Concerto No. 3 is ready (I have one copy)" [9].

Besides the full score, Pyotr Jurgenson published an arrangement for two pianos and four hands in November 1894, and the orchestral parts in March 1895.

The remaining two movements were subsequently completed by Sergey Taneyev and published in Leipzig by Mitrofan Belyayev as the "Andante and Finale", Op. 79.

In 1954 the full score and two-piano arrangement of the completed movement were published in volumes 29 and 46Б respectively of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Aleksandr Goldenweiser.

Autographs

Tchaikovsky's manuscript score of the Allegro brillante (which includes a piano reduction of the orchestral parts) is now preserved in the Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture in Moscow (ф. 88, No. 93).

Dedication

The manuscript score carries an inscription (not in Tchaikovsky's hand) to Louis Diémer (1843–1919), French pianist, and professor at the Paris Conservatory.

Related Works

See: Symphony in E-flat major and Andante and Finale

Recordings

See: Piano Concerto No. 3: Recordings

Notes and References

  1. Letter 4934 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 15/27 May 1893 [back]
  2. Letter 4994 to Aleksandr Ziloti, 1/13 August 1893 [back]
  3. Modest Tchaikovsky, Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1902), p. 639 [back]
  4. Letter 5043 to Aleksandr Ziloti, 25 September/7 October 1893 [back]
  5. Letter 5047 to Vladimir Davydov, 27 September/9 October 1893 [back]
  6. Diary entry of Sergey Taneyev, 7/19 January 1893 — Klin House-Museum Archive [back]
  7. See letter from Sergey Taneyev to Modest Tchaikovsky, 22 June/4 July 1894 — Klin House-Museum Archive [back]
  8. See letters from Pyotr Jurgenson to Modest Tchaikovsky, September-October 1894 — Klin House-Museum Archive [back]
  9. Letter from Sergey Taneyev to Modest Tchaikovsky, 18/30 December 1894 — Klin House-Museum Archive [back]