Thursday 27 June 2013

Clarifying Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto

Tchaikovsky wrote his First Piano Concerto in 1874/5 and the work was published in the composer's lifetime, so the production of a new critical edition would seem to be just the work of tidying up a few corners? Not at all. The famous opening of the concerto, as Tchaikovsky first wrote it, was at a slower tempo and the famous tune accompanied by piano chords which are softer and more arpeggio than we know  today.

Tchaikovsky did revise the work in his lifetime. During the late 1880's Tchaikovsky started corresponding with publishers about a new edition and by 1897 (four years after the composer's death), the version that we know today was firmly established. But it is not clear what was authorised by the composer and the vagaries of 19th century publishing mean that we are not sure what score was published when. The composer Sergei Taneyev, who played the work in Russia in 1875, continued to think that the changes were inauthentic. The Tchaikovsky Research project is attempting to clarify things by collating as many early editions as possible prior to the editorial work for the new edition.

Further information from the Tchaikovsky Research webpages.

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