Ivan the Terrible (Rubinstein)

Tchaikovsky Research

Ivan the Terrible (Иван Грозный) was a 'characteristic musical picture' by Anton Rubinstein (Op. 79), which Tchaikovsky arranged for piano duet in 1869 (TH 177 ; ČW 408).


Arranged for piano duet (4 hands).

Movements and Duration

There is one movement: Lento e maestoso (607 bars, B minor), lasting around 25 minutes in performance.


The arrangement was commissioned from Tchaikovsky by the publisher Vasily Bessel, and the story of the arrangement is related in the composer's correspondence with his brothers and with Bessel: "Yesterday I received a request from Bessel in Saint Petersburg: he wants me to arrange Rubinstein's Ivan the Terrible" [1]. "I'm arranging Anton Rubinstein's overture Ivan the Terrible for four hands" [2], and "I've finished the arrangement commissioned by Bessel" [3].

In a letter to Bessel on 21 December 1869/2 January 1870, Tchaikovsky wrote: "Thank you for sending the 40 rubles and also for the proofs of Ivan. A receipt is enclosed" [4].


Tchaikovsky's arrangement was published by Vasily Bessel in 1869. It was included in volume 60 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works (1971), edited by Georgy Kirkor.


Tchaikovsky's autograph manuscript of the arrangement has been lost.

Related Works

The ‘characteristic musical picture' for orchestra Ivan the Terrible (Op. 79) by Anton Rubinstein was written in 1869, based on the drama The Maid of Pskov (Псковитянка) (1860) by Lev Mey. It was first published by Bessel in the same year, simultaneously with Tchaikovsky's arrangement for piano duet.

In 1871, Tchaikovsky arranged another of Anton Rubinstein's orchestral works for piano duet — Don Quixote.

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Letter 153 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 7/19 October 1869.
  2. Letter 155 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 12/24 October 1869.
  3. Letter 157 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 30 October/11 November 1869.
  4. Letter 171 to Vasily Bessel, 21 December 1869/2 January 1870. The receipt read "I have received 40 silver rubles for arranging A. G. Rubinstein's composition Ivan the Terrible. Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Moscow, 21 December 1869".