Six Romances, Op. 57
Scored for high voice (Nos. 1, 5), medium voice (Nos. 3, 4), baritone (No. 2) or low voice (No. 6), with piano accompaniment.
Movements and Duration
- Tell Me, What in the Shade of the Branches? (Скажи, о чем в тени ветвей)
Andante sostenuto (E major, 63 bars).
- On the Golden Cornfields (На нивы желтые)
Andante (F minor, 36 bars).
- Do Not Ask (Не спрашивай)
Adagio molto sostenuto (D major, 32 bars).
- Sleep! (Усни!)
Andante sostenuto (F major, 53 bars).
- Death (Смерть)
Moderato (F major, 75 bars).
- Only You Alone (Лишь ты один)
Andante non troppo (F major, 36 bars).
Скажи, о чём в тени ветвей,
2. Aleksey Tolstoy (1817–1875), from an untitled poem (1862):
На нивы жёлтые нисходит тишина,
Не спрашивай, не вызывай признанья!
4. Dmitry Merezhkovsky (1865–1941), from his poem of the same name (1884):
Уснуть бы мне навек в траве, как в колыбели,
5. Dmitry Merezhkovsky, from an untitled poem (by 1883):
Если розы тихо осыпаются,
Лишь ты один в мои страданья верил,
Tchaikovsky made minor changes to the texts of the poems used in On the Golden Cornfields (No. 2), Do Not Ask! (No. 3), Sleep! (No. 4), and more significant changes in Only You Alone (No. 6).
The earliest of the romances to be written was Tell Me, What in the Shade of the Branches? (No. 1). In a letter to Pyotr Jurgenson of 1/13 December 1884 (see below). the composer expressed his surprise at this discovery of this romance, which it seems he had forgotten about . The exact time and place of its composition are uncertain.
On the Golden Cornfields (No. 2) and Do Not Ask (No. 3) were composed at Pleshcheyevo in late September 1884. Before the rough draft of No. 2 in the composer's notebook is the date "Pleshcheyevo, 26 Sept 1884" [O.S.]. Do Not Ask (No. 3) was composed next, and its text was probably chosen by Tchaikovsky after he read Goethe's novel The Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister("God, how marvellous this is..."), which he found in Nadezhda von Meck's library at Pleshcheyevo .
The remaining three romances were written in Paris between 19 November/1 December (the date of his arrival) and 1/13 December 1884, when Tchaikovsky wrote to Pyotr Jurgenson: "I was very surprised to learn that Komissarzhevsky has my romance. Incidentally, I already have another five. Congratulations to you on my new opus" .
Writing to Modest Tchaikovsky from Paris on 3/15 December 1884, the composer reported: "I cannot say that I am bored from idleness. I managed here to devise the main revisions to Vakula, and to write three new romances, and one church number" .
Each romance is dedicated to a different person:
- Fyodor Komissarzhevsky (1838–1905), the tenor who premiered the title role in Vakula the Smith in 1876.
- Bogomir Korsov (1845–1920), the baritone who premiered the title role in Mazepa in 1884.
- Emiliya Pavlovskaya (1856–1935), the soprano who premiered the role of Mariya in Mazepa
- Vera Butakova (1843–1920) , younger sister of Lev Davydov (the husband of Tchaikovsky's sister Aleksandra Davydova.
- Dmitry Usatov (1847–1913), tenor who premiered the role of Andrey in Mazepa.
- Aleksandra Krutikova (1851–1919), mezzo-soprano who premiered the role of Lyubov in Mazepa.
Notes and References
- In the original editions the author of the text is not stated. In the score published by Félix Mackar in Paris during the composer's lifetime, the authorship is attributed to Vladimir Sollogub.
- See Richard D. Sylvester, (2002), p. 203–204.
- See Letter 2615 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 1/13 December 1884. It is possible that this romance dated from as early as 1876 — see Letter 511 to Vasily Bessel, November 1876
- See Letter 2554, 7/19-11/23 September 1884, and Letter 2554, 20 September/2 October 1884, both to Modest Tchaikovsky, and Letter 2562 to Nadezhda von Meck, 1/13–3/15 October 1884.
- Letter 2615 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 1/13 December 1884.
- Letter 2617 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 3/15 December 1884.
- Passed by the censor on 9/21 March 1885.
- The manuscript score indicates that No. 4 was originally dedicated to the mezzo-soprano Mariya Slavina (b. 1858), who performed the role of Olga in the 1884 production of Yevgeny Onegin in Saint Petersburg.