Chorus of Flowers and Insects

The Chorus of Flowers and Insects (Хор цветов и насекомых) (TH 71 ; ČW 441) was written and orchestrated by Tchaikovsky in December 1869 and January 1870 as a scene for a projected opera Mandragora.

Instrumentation

The work is scored for a mixed chorus (SATB) and boys' choir (SSA), with an orchestra consisting of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in A), 2 bassoons + 4 horns (in F) + timpano + harp, violins I, violins II, violas, cellos, and double basses.

Duration

There is one movement: Andante non tanto (D major, 125 bars), lasting approximately 7 minutes in performance.

Text

The text was specially written by Sergey Rachinsky, as part of his libretto for Mandragora.

Composition

The Chorus of Insects, as it was originally styled, was written at the end of 1869 in Moscow, and was conceived as a fragment from Tchaikovsky's projected opera Mandragora. The first contemporary reference to it occurs in Tchaikovsky's letter to his brother Modest of 13/25 January 1870: "... I have written a chorus of insects for the opera Mandragora, the subject of which I think is familiar to you; it was written by Rachinsky" [1]. On the full score the title appears as 'Chorus of Flowers and Insects from a fantastic opera "Mandragora"'.

Arrangements

The vocal-piano reduction was completed by Tchaikovsky on 27 December 1869/8 January 1870.

Performances

The chorus was performed at the sixth symphony concert given by the Moscow branch of the Russian Musical Society on 18/30 December 1870, as Chorus of Elves from an unfinished fantastic opera [Хор эльфов из незаконченной фантастической оперы], and later at the second concert of the Free Music School in Saint Petersburg, conducted by Mily Balakirev, on 18/30 December 1871. After the first performance, Tchaikovsky was prevailed upon by Karl Albrecht to revise the middle section, but subsequently it was left unchanged [2].

Publication

The chorus was published for the first time by Pyotr Jurgenson in June 1902—in the form of a choral score with piano accompaniment, and parts [3]. Since the full score was believed to be lost, the chorus was orchestrated by Aleksandr Glazunov in 1898 (according to the date on the manuscript), with the intention that it should be published by Pyotr Jurgenson in this form [4]. However, it seems that Tchaikovsky's orchestral score was rediscovered shortly afterwards, and it was ultimately this version which appeared in April 1904 (full score) and November 1904 (parts) [5].

The full score and vocal-piano reduction were published together in 1950 in volume 2 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Rostislav Berberov.

Autographs

Tchaikovsky's manuscript full score (ф. 88, No. 35) [view] and vocal-piano reduction (ф. 88, No. 36) [view] are now preserved in the Russian National Museum of Music in Moscow.

Related Works

See Mandragora.

Recordings

See: Chorus of Flowers and Insects: Recordings

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Letter 178 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 13/25 January 1870.
  2. See Letter 194, 1/13 June 1871, and Letter 242, 22 October/3 November 1871, to Mily Balakirev, and Balakirev's reply to Tchaikovsky, October 1871 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  3. Passed by the censor on 28 May/10 June 1902. See also letters from Pyotr Jurgenson to Modest Tchaikovsky, 10/23 May 1902 and 11/24 December 1903 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  4. See letter from Pyotr Jurgenson to Modest Tchaikovsky, 27 May/8 June 1898. Glazunov's manuscript is preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive.
  5. Many sources indicate that it was Glazunov's orchestrated version which was published in 1904; however, a comparison of the 1904 edition with the version published in the Complete Collected Works shows that the two are identical, and therefore Tchaikovsky's full score must have been rediscovered prior to 1904.