After Tchaikovsky's death the following year, Sergey Taneyev discovered some sketches for the piece, which he completed and prepared for publication under the title Momento lirico (subtitled Impromptu), unaware that the composition had already appeared in print.
Movements and Duration
Tchaikovsky's original version is marked Andantino (A-flat major, 58 bars), while Taneyev's completion has the same tempo and key, but is three bars shorter. Both versions are around three minutes in duration.
On 12/24 June 1892 Tchaikovsky received a letter from the Czech music publisher Velebín Urbánek, asking for a piece to be included in the Christmas 1892 edition of his collection Piano-forte. It was apparently in response to this request that Tchaikovsky wrote the Moment lyrique, the manuscript score of which is dated 26 October/7 November 1892, and includes the note: "Dear Herr Urbanek! I am sending you the promised little piece. I hope it is not too short" .
For unknown reasons the Moment lyrique did not appear in the Christmas 1892 edition of Piano-forte, and was only published two years later in the journal Hudební album . Tchaikovsky's associates in Russia (and especially his principal publisher Pyotr Jurgenson) appear to have been completely unaware of the existence of this work.
At around the same time Modest Tchaikovsky asked Sergey Taneyev to complete a number compositions that Tchaikovsky had left unfinished at his death on 25 October/6 November 1893. Taneyev discovered the sketches of the Moment lyrique, which he duly completed and prepared for publication, under the impression that this was one of Tchaikovsky's unfinished works.
On 15/27 September 1894, Sergey Taneyev wrote to Modest Tchaikovsky: "The Impromptu  was given to Pyotr Ivanovich shortly after you left" . On 17/28 September, Pyotr Jurgenson informed Modest Tchaikovsky that the Impromptu was being engraved . During late September/early October, Sergey Taneyev checked the proofs, and in late October/early November the piece was printed . The Impromptu was put on sale at the same time as the Piano Concerto No. 3.
Tchaikovsky's original autograph was auctioned in Austria in 1935, and again in Marburg (Germany) in 1961, but is present whereabouts are unknown.
Notes and References
- See Letter 4713, 22 June/4 July, and Letter 4790a, 26 October/7 November 1892, both to Mojmir Urbánek.
- In ČW this request is said to have come from Velebín Urbánek.
- Hudební album. Musik album. Sbornik-auswal sklabed skladetelüv Českoslovanských. Von Musikpicen böhmisch-slavischer Componisten. Pořádá-redakteur Zdeněk Fibich. Vyd. 2 (Prague: Nakl. Fr. A. Urbánek ), p. 19–20. The score has since been reprinted in Polina Vaidman, (1988), p. 68.
- The sketches used by Taneyev included three different titles: Moment lyrique, Impromptu, and Momento lirico.
- Letter from Sergey Taneyev to Modest Tchaikovsky, 15/27 September 1894 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
- See letter from Pyotr Jurgenson to Modest Tchaikovsky, 17/29 September 1894.
- See letters from Pyotr Jurgenson to Modest Tchaikovsky, 28 September/10 October, 3/15 and 6/18 October 1894 — Klin House-Museum Archive.