Tchaikovsky Society

Tchaikovsky Research
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The Tchaikovsky Society (Tschaikowsky-Gesellschaft) was founded on 25 October 1993 [1] in the German university town of Tübingen. The Society currently has around 150 members in ten countries [2].


The establishment of the Tchaikovsky Society was part of the 'International Tchaikovsky Festival', which took place between 23 and 27 October 1993 in Tübingen and, under the guidance of Professor Dr Thomas Kohlhase, was organised by the Collegium musicum and Institute of Musicology of the University of Tübingen, Tübingen University Library, and the Tübingen City Cultural and Museum Society.

The Tchaikovsky Festival included a musicological symposium with 23 contributors from Russia, England, the United States and Germany, speaking on various historical, biographical, musical, editorial and critical aspects of Tchaikovsky studies. The papers from this symposium were published in 1995 in the first volume of the Čajkovskij-Studien ('Tchaikovsky Studies') series [3].

Several concerts were held as part of the Tchaikovsky Festival, featuring the composer's vocal and instrumental music, and the Tübingen City Museum also housed an exhibition on Tchaikovsky and European Culture, which included original exhibits on loan from the Tchaikovsky House-Museum in Klin.

In a special ceremony, the joint Russian-German editorial board and representatives of the publishing companies of Muzyka (Moscow) and Schott (Mainz, Germany), presented the first published volume of the New Complete Edition of Tchaikovsky's works, comprising the score of the Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique). Work on the New Complete Edition and its promotion were one of the main motivations for the founding of the Tchaikovsky Society, and remain one of its important tasks (see below).


The Society is dedicated to the artistic and scholarly study of the musical and literary heritage and life of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, specifically by means of publications, and the organising of events, concerts and lectures. Its focus is on scholarly endeavours, namely the promotion of the New Complete Edition, and producting its own publications. The scholarly and editorial work is managed by the Scientific Advisory Board of the Society, comprising Tchaikovsky specialists from different countries. The Board supports the work on the New Complete Edition and other critical editions, and co-ordinates and selects the Society's publications. It has two series: the Mitteilungen (1994-date), and Čajkovskij-Studien (1995-date), the latter being published by Schott Music International in Mainz.

The Society promotes contacts with related institutions, and strives to further expand and strengthen co-operation with other Tchaikovsky projects, and with musicians and researchers. Foremost among these is its collaboration with the Tchaikovsky House-Museum at Klin. Other important contacts include researchers from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow and the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Saint Petersburg, the State Institute for Art Research in Moscow, as well as other academies, libraries, museums and archives in Russia and elsewhere which are also dedicated to the research and preservation of Tchaikovsky's legacy.

Moreover, the Society is working with researchers and institutions in Anglo-Saxon speaking countries and in France, including the Tchaikovsky Research project, which is of international importance for Tchaikovsky studies, making available extensive documentary materials and research through the internet.


In addition to promoting work on the New Complete Edition of Tchaikovsky's works that have been published since 1993 by Muzyka in Moscow and Schott in Mainz, the Society is mainly concerned with working on their own two series of publications:

  • the Čajkovskij-Studien ('Tchaikovsky Studies') series, edited by Thomas Kohlhase, which has been published at irregular intervals since 1995 by Schott Music International in Mainz, and covers various aspects of Tchaikovsky's life and work [5].
  • the Society's annual Mitteilungen ('Notices'), issued every spring since 1994;

The Mitteilungen have evolved from a simple newsletter, to become more sophisticated collections of articles, containing up to 260 pages per issue. As a result of personal contacts with Russian musicologists, an increasing number of articles by Russian authors are included (in German translations), as well as some papers in English.

Articles in the Mitteilungen [6] generally contain original research, in the form of biographical articles, documents, histories or musical analysis, as well as descriptions of newly-discovered Tchaikovsky autographs. Previously unknown letters by Tchaikovsky turn up regularly (especially in the west), in libraries and archives, auctions and booksellers' catalogues, as well as in private collections. Most of them have only come to light since the completion of the Literary Works and Correspondence series of the old complete edition, and have been published for the first time in the Mitteilungen. Important new books and CD releases are also noted in the Mitteilungen, either mentioned in brief, or in the form of a detailed review.

In addition to the two regular series, two special issues ("Sonderhefte") of the Mitteilungen have been published: the first (2001) issue contained the guidelines of the New Complete Edition, in Russian and German versions; the second (2005) included a chronologically arranged collection of samples of Tchaikovsky's music and textural autographs, making it possible for readers to familiarise themselves with all the characteristics of his handwriting.

For particularly large forthcoming projects [7], the Society may in certain cases seek the support of sponsors, in addition to using their own resources.

New Complete Edition

The textural portions of the New Complete Edition of Tchaikovsky's works (NCE) are presented in both English and Russian. The editorial board for the issues produced so far include Professor Dr Lyudmila Korabelnikova, Dr Valentina Rubtsova, Dr Polina Vaidman, and Professor Dr Thomas Kohlhase.

The old Complete Collected Works, published between 1940 and 1971 (volumes 1 to 62), with an additional volume on church music released in 1990 (volume 63), is editorially deficient by today's standards. Some of the texts set to music by Tchaikovsky were changed by the editors for arbitrary idealogical reasons, and quotations from the old Russian anthem were also replaced by other music. It omitted, amongst other things, the full score of the opera Vakula the Smith, Op. 14, the unfinished Symphony in E-flat major, and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen's version of the Variations on a Rococo Theme, as sanctioned by Tchaikovsky. Moreover, no uniform editorial standards were applied to the text or music, and there were no detailed critical reports, comprehensive descriptions of sources, or thorough evaluations of the manuscripts and alternative readings. Out of the projected seventeen volumes of Tchaikovsky's literary works and letters, two (volumes I and IV), comprising the diaries and notebooks), were not produced.

All of these defects shall be fixed in the new edition, which aims to include the composer's final intentions together with alternative and earlier versions of works, as well as fragments and unfinished works, in reproductions that are faithful to the original sources, and which will be fully documented and discussed in the critical reports. As an historical-critical edition it is intended to be used both for research and for performance.

In addition to the 76 music volumes (Series I to X), including prefaces and critical reports, Series X will include facsimiles of Tchaikovsky's surviving sketches, as well as a commentary; Series XI will include his writings, diaries, letters and correspondence; Series XII will comprise a thematic catalogue [8] and Tchaikovsky encyclopaedia.

Since 1993 the following volumes of the New Complete Edition have been published:

Vol. 39a. Edited by Polina Vaidman (1999)

Vol. 39b. Edited by Thomas Kohlhase, with the assistance of Polina Vaidman (1993)

Vol. 39c. Edited by Thomas Kohlhase, with the assistance of Polina Vaidman (2003)

Vol. 69a. Edited by Lyudmila Korabelnikova and Polina Vaidman (2008)

Vol. 69b. Edited by Thomas Kohlhase (2001)

The fact that so few volumes of the New Complete Edition have appeared since 1993 can primarily be attributed to the fact that so far no government funding for the project has been forthcoming, unlike the situation with comparable editorial projects (e.g. the complete works of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Richard Strauss, etc.), where it has proved essential. Without the facilities to examine all the sources, and to prepare the editions in collaboration with external editors, archives, researchers, editors, proof readers and publishers, the New Complete Edition cannot be continued.

Annual Meetings

The Society is open to all individuals who are interested in Tchaikovsky's music and wish to support the objectives of the Society. The annual meetings of members of the Society are accompanied by concerts, recitals and lectures, and held in different German cities, in collaboration with local opera houses and concert events. The lectures, which are held during the annual meetings, are normally reported in the Mitteilungen.

All these activities—events, annual meetings, lectures, concerts, and especially publications—have made the Society known beyond Germany. The Tchaikovsky Society is more than a group of enthusiasts: it constantly endeavours to explore and publicise Tchaikovsky's life and works, and anyone who wishes to support this goal is invited to become a member. More information can be found on the Society's website.

Notes and References

  1. The 100th anniversary of Tchaikovsky's death by the Julian calendar  [back]
  2. The articles of association of the Tchaikovsky Society can be found at  [back]
  3. See Internationales Čajkovskij Symposium, Tübingen 1993. Bericht (1995)  [back]
  4. See Internationales Tschaikowsky-Fest. Tübingen 23. -27 Oktober 1993. Festschrift (1993)  [back]
  5. For the contents of previous volumes see  [back]
  6. A selection of past articles is available online at  [back]
  7. See  [back]
  8. The thematic catalogue has been published separately, in Russian and English, as Thematic and Bibliographical Catalogue of P. I. Čajkovskij's Works, edited and compiled by Polina Vaidman, Lyudmila Korabelnikova and Valentina Rubtsova (2006) [back]