Hymn in Honour of Saints Cyril and Methodius
The Hymn in Honour of Saints Cyril and Methodius (Гимн в честь святых Кирилла и Мефодия), for unaccompanied mixed voices (TH 79 ; ČW 69), was written by Tchaikovsky in March 1885, as part of commemorations of the 1000th anniversary of the death of Saint Methodius.
Scored for mixed chorus (SATB).
Movements and Duration
There is one movement: Moderato (F major, 32 bars), lasting around 2 minutes in performance.
The text was translated by Tchaikovsky from a traditional Czech hymn.
In December 1884, the Slavonic Society approached Tchaikovsky with a commission for him to write something for the one thousandth anniversary of the death of Saint Methodius. On 16/28 February 1885, the composer received a similar request from Pyotr Jurgenson: "... to write in honour of Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius a hymn for four voices, and also suitable for one voice . In his letter of reply the composer wrote: "I received your note yesterday. What hymn? Why? Who needs it? Why the hell?, etc. I've already been pestered to write something for a gala concert by some Slavonic Society or other. I refused. And now you!... Anyway, on Thursday I'll be in Moscow and will speak with you then" . During his visit to Moscow from 21 February/5 March to 25 February/9 March, Tchaikovsky acceded to Jurgenson's request.
On 6/18 March, Pyotr Jurgenson sent the composer a Russian translation of the Czech text of the hymn, asking that he should shorten and revise the Russian text . Tchaikovsky immediately completed this task, and on 8/20 March he sent the hymn to Jurgenson, complaining that he had been "tormented for 6 hours by this doggerel..." .
According to Tchaikovsky's note on the score, the main theme of the chorus was based on an old Slavic melody.
The first performance was given by a student choir at the Moscow Conservatory on 6/18 April 1885.
Jurgenson issued the choral score and parts in March 1885.
The hymn was included in volume 63 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works (1990), edited by Lyudmila Korabelnikova and Marina Rakhmanova.
The whereabouts of Tchaikovsky's manuscript score are unknown.