Souvenir d'un lieu cher

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Souvenir d'un lieu cher [1], Op. 42 (TH 116; ČW 205), is a set of three pieces for violin and piano, composed by Tchaikovsky between March and May 1878.

Contents

Instrumentation

Scored for solo violin with piano accompaniment.

Movements and Duration

There are three pieces, together lasting around 10 to 15 minutes in performance:

  1. Méditation
    Andante molto cantabile (D minor, 188 bars).
  2. Scherzo
    Presto giocoso (C minor, 288 bars).
  3. Mélodie [2]
    Moderato con moto (E-flat major, 82 bars).

Composition

The pieces were conceived while Tchaikovsky was working on his Violin Concerto (possibly in response to a request by Iosif Kotek). Méditation (No. 1) was written between 11/23 and 13/25 March 1878 at Clarens as the original second movement of the Violin Concerto, which was subsequently rejected and replaced with the Canzonetta [3].

Tchaikovsky began composing the other pieces after finishing his Children's Album on 4/16 May 1878. On 10/22 May he told Anatoly Tchaikovsky: "My work is going well" [4]. Three days later Tchaikovsky left for Nadezhda von Meck’s estate at Brailov, and on 19/31 May he began to make fair copies of the violin pieces [5]. On leaving Brailov, he handed over the completed pieces to the estate manager, Marcel, to be conveyed to Nadezhda von Meck: "I have left my pieces (dedicated to Brailov) with Marcel to give to you... In my opinion, the first of these is the best, but it gave me the most trouble; it is called Méditation and is to be played a tempo Andante. The second is a very brisk scherzo, and the third – Chant sans paroles. On giving these pieces to Marcel, I experienced an indescribable melancholy, which stayed with me even as I sat down to write this; until I saw the lilacs still in full bloom, the grass still long, and the roses only just starting to blossom!" [6]. In the same letter, Tchaikovsky asked Nadezhda von Meck if a copy of the pieces could be made and sent for publication, leaving the autograph with her. Władysław Pachulski made a copy of the pieces, but Tchaikovsky did not receive them until September 1878, when he told Nadezhda von Meck: "I have received the violin pieces. My thanks to you and Pachulski" [7].

Performances

No information survives on the first performance of Souvenir d'un lieu cher.

Publication

In November 1878, Tchaikovsky enquired of Pyotr Jurgenson: "Please tell me, have you got the three violin pieces or not? Could I ask you to send the proofs to Kotek" [8].

The pieces were published by Pyotr Jurgenson in May 1879, and Tchaikovsky declared himself "highly delighted with the edition" [9].

In October 1880 Méditation was published separately, as were Scherzo and Mélodie in April 1884. In 1896 Jurgenson published all three pieces in an arrangement by Aleksandr Glazunov for violin with orchestra, and in 1908 a new edition of the pieces for violin and piano was issued, edited by Leopold Auer.

The Souvenir d'un lieu cher was published in volume 55А of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works (1946), edited by Ivan Shishov and Nikolay Shemanin.

Autographs

Although Tchaikovsky had given the autograph score to Nadezhda von Meck, in May 1879, the composer wrote to Pyotr Jurgenson: "I will attempt to obtain the manuscript for you, although you will understand that this is not without its difficulties" [10]. However, this promise was not fulfilled, and the whereabouts of his original manuscript remain unknown.

Dedication

On 24 November/6 December 1878, Tchaikovsky informed Jurgenson that "I should like the dedication to read as follows: 'Dedicated to B******* ', i.e. B and 7 asterisks" [11]. The asterisks concealed the dedication to Brailov (in Russian: «Браилову»).

Notes and References

  1. The title Souvenir d'un lieu cher was first used in editions printed after Tchaikovsky's death, and it is uncertain whether this was the composer's own designation. Entitled simply "Three Pieces" in ČW [back]
  2. Originally Tchaikovsky called No. 3 Chant sans paroles [back]
  3. See Letter 798 to Nadezhda von Meck, 24 March/5 April 1878 [back]
  4. Letter 826 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky [back]
  5. See Letter 832 to Nadezhda von Meck, 18/30–19/31 May 1878 [back]
  6. Letter 846 to Nadezhda von Meck, 29–30 May/10–11 June 1878 [back]
  7. Letter 912 to Nadezhda von Meck, 12/24–13/25 September 1878 [back]
  8. Letter 978 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 24 November/6 December 1878 [back]
  9. See Letter 1194 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 31 March/12 April 1879 [back]
  10. See Letter 1194 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 31 March/12 April 1879 [back]
  11. Letter 978 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 24 November/6 December 1878 [back]