Midnight Review

Midnight Review (Ночной парад) (TH 92 ; ČW 435) [1] was a song written by Tchaikovsky while he was a student in Anton Rubinstein's classes at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, probably in 1863 or 1864.

This romance is known only from the memoirs of Aleksandr Rubets, who was Tchaikovsky's contemporary at the conservatory. Rubets recalled that Anton Rubinstein would "read a poem out loud and the students there and then had to come up with a musical setting for one or more voices, depending on their preference. They had to compose a draft, and the next day the work was to be submitted, already finished and written out... Among the suggested texts were Lermontov's Prayer, Dance of the Flowers, The Bells, and others".

On one such occasion, "Tchaikovsky had been assigned the task of setting Zhukovsky's Midnight Review [2] to music. I could not restrain myself', wrote Rubets, 'and mentioned that Glinka had already written such a song. Rubinstein shrugged his shoulders and replied: 'So what? Glinka wrote his music, and Tchaikovsky has written his own. Any poem can be set by various composers, without worrying about those who have gone before'. Tchaikovsky's piece turned out not to be just a romance, but a whole complex picture, having nothing in common with Glinka's work. The accompaniment for each stanza was varied and intricate... Tchaikovsky had written the piece quickly in just two days" [3].

The song was never published, and the score has subsequently been lost.

Notes and References

  1. Translated as Night Parade in ČW.
  2. Vasily Zhukovsky's poem dates from 1836, and was a translation of the ballad Die nächtliche Heerschau (1827) by Joseph Christian von Zedlitz (1790-1862).
  3. See Воспоминания проф. А. И. Рубца о первых годах Петербургской консерваторий (1912); quoted in Музыкальное наследие Чайковского. Из историй его произведений (1958), pp. 429–430.