Overture-Fantasia (Laroche)

Tchaikovsky Research

Tchaikovsky orchestrated the Overture-Fantasia (Увертюра-фантазиа) by his friend Herman Laroche in August and September 1888 (TH 192 ; ČW 420) [1].


Scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets (in A), 2 bassoons + 4 horns (in F), 2 cornets (in A), 2 trumpets (in A), 3 trombones, tuba + 4 timpani, triangle, tambourine, side drum, cymbals, bass drum, glockenspiel + violins I, violins II, violas, cellos, and double basses.

Movements and Duration

There is one movement: Vivace, rubatissimo (D major, 734 bars), lasting around 15 to 20 minutes in performance.


Work on this orchestration was begun after the completion of the full score of the Fifth Symphony. i.e. after 14/26 August 1888 [2]. According to Herman Laroche's note on the manuscript, Tchaikovsky completed the instrumentation on 9/21 September 1888 at Frolovskoye.

"I don't know if I wrote to you...", Tchaikovsky informed Nadezhda von Meck on 14/26 September 1888, "that some time ago I promised to orchestrate an overture composed by my old friend Laroche, which he partly through inexperience and partly through ill-health, could not score himself. It is a product of exceptional talent, and demonstrates how much music has lost because this gifted genius man is suffering from a lack of confidence which effectively paralyses his creative ability" [3]. Further on in this same letter, Tchaikovsky reported that the overture was causing him a great deal of trouble.


On 5/17 November 1888 at a Philharmonic Society concert in Saint Petersburg, the first performance of the Overture-Fantasia took place in a concert of Tchaikovsky's works [4]. It was not a success, in spite of Tchaikovsky's ardent attempts to bring Herman Laroche's works to public notice.


Tchaikovsky's orchestration was published for the first time in 1970, in volume 59 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Irina Iordan.


Tchaikovsky's manuscript score of the arrangement is now preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive (a1, No. 130).

Herman Laroche's sketches for the overture, including Tchaikovsky's annotations, is held at the Russian National Museum of Music (Ф. 69, No. 19) [view].

Related Works

In some sources the Overture-Fantasia has been confused with Laroche's earlier overture Carmosine (Кармозина), which was not orchestrated by Tchaikovsky (although he did conduct Carmosine at his last concert on 16/28 October 1893 in Saint Petersburg).

Notes and References

  1. Entitled "Fantasy Overture" in ČW.
  2. See Letter 3650 to Modest Tchaikovsky, and Letter 3649 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, both 22 August/3 September 1888, and Letter 3651 to Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, 26 August/7 September 1888.
  3. Letter 3669 to Nadezhda von Meck, 14/26 September 1888.
  4. See Letter 3672 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 19 September/1 October 1888.