Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor

Tchaikovsky Research

Tchaikovsky's Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor (TH 123 ; ČW 97) was written in 1865, during the composer's final year as a student at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, and only published after his death as "Opus 80". It should not be confused with the later Grand Sonata in G major, dating from 1878.

Movements and Duration

There are four movements, totalling around 25 to 30 minutes in performance:

  1. Allegro con fuoco (C-sharp minor, 380 bars)
  2. Andante (A major, 106 bars)
  3. Allegro vivo (C-sharp minor, 336 bars)
  4. Allegro vivo (C-sharp minor, 411 bars).


No information survives concerning the composition of the sonata, and after Tchaikovsky's death the manuscript of the sonata was found amongst his papers at Klin. In 1900, Modest Tchaikovsky and Aleksandr Ziloti entered into a protracted correspondence regarding this work [1].


Aleksandr Ziloti played the first and third movements of the sonata (only) in two of his concerts—in Odessa on 29 September/12 October, and Moscow on 14/27 October 1900.


The Sonata was published by Pyotr Jurgenson in 1900 under the editorship of Sergey Taneyev, who made corrections and supplied some bars in the Andante, about which he wrote in his diary for 21 May/3 June 1900: "Called in at Klin with Vladimir Lvovich and Modest Ilyich. Reviewed Pyotr Ilyich's conservatory sonata (a copy) and made some corrections... I took the sonata with me, in order to rewrite the final bars in the Andante" [2].

At this time the sonata was being prepared for publication, the pianist Aleksandr Ziloti objected to the publication of the sonata in full, and insisted that it should be cut: "I shall be writing to Sergey Ivanovich to tell him that I strongly object to the Andante and last movement being printed. I am sending notes about this to both you and Sergey Ivanovich. Today I am writing to Jurgenson" [3].

In this same letter he described his proposed changes, and a few days later wrote: "After my letter of three days ago you asked me to provide details of, shall we call it, my ‘meddling', and so I hastened to set down my notes. You lost them, and asked Taneyev to send me this copy, which I must ask to be returned as soon as possible [4]. If you should both decide to publish the whole sonata, then I consider these changes to be my property, and I ask you not use them. Along with your complete edition, I will publish the two movements I edited myself" [5]. Ziloti's two-movement version was published by Jurgenson in 1901 [6].

In 1945, the sonata was published in volume 51А of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Ivan Shishov.


Tchaikovsky's manuscript score of the sonata has been lost.


See: Discography

Related Works

The second subject of the finale (from bar 51) is based on a theme from the Agitato and Allegro in E minor, which Tchaikovsky had written as a student exercise in 1863 or 1864 [7].

The Scherzo (third movement) of the sonata was adapted by Tchaikovsky to become the Scherzo of his Symphony No. 1, begun the year after composing the sonata.

External Links

Notes and References

  1. See letters from Aleksandr Ziloti to Modest Tchaikovsky of 12/25 April, 6/19 May, 17/30 May, 26 June/9 July, 28 June/11 July, 9/22 August, 27 August/9 September, 23 September/6 October 1900 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  2. Sergey Taneyev's diary entry for 21 May/3 June 1900 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  3. Letter from Aleksandr Ziloti to Modest Tchaikovsky, 28 June/11 July 1900 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  4. Aleksandr Ziloti required the manuscript in order to prepare for the concert on 29 September/11 October.
  5. Letter of 28 June/11 July 1900 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  6. As Allegro et scherzo d'une sonate inachevée, composée en 1865... Rédigés par A. Siloti".
  7. We are most grateful to Mr Simone Mantelli for bringing this to our attention.