Six Romances, Op. 73
All six songs are written for high voice and piano accompaniment.
Movements and Duration
- We Sat Together (Мы сидели с тобой)
Andante non troppo (E major—C-sharp minor, 32 bars).
- Night (Ночь)
Adagio (F minor, 27 bars).
- In This Moonlit Night (В эту лунную ночь)
Andante con moto (A-flat major, 35 bars).
- The Sun Has Set (Закатилось солнце)
Andante (E major, 33 bars).
- Amid Sombre Days (Средь мрачных дней)
Allegro moderato (A-flat major, 44 bars).
- Again, As Before, Alone (Снова, как прежде, один)
Andante mosso (A minor, 33 bars).
A complete performance of all six romances lasts around 15 to 20 minutes.
The texts of the romances were first sent to Tchaikovsky in August 1892 by the author, Danyl Ratgauz, a student at Kiev University, then a stranger to the composer. The first of his letters to Tchaikovsky, which does not survive, included the poems We Sat Together (No. 1) and (apparently), Night (No. 2). Replying on 30 August/11 September 1892. Tchaikovsky wrote:
I am not sufficiently competent in the field of literature to pass a definitive judgement by any means, nor to dispel the doubts you have. But as a musician, looking at your verses from the standpoint of whether they are to a greater or lesser extent suitable for music, for my part I must respond to your delightful pieces in a positive fashion. I cannot say exactly when I will be able to write music to some or all of your verses, but I can give you a firm promise that it will be sooner rather than later. One of them in particular cries out for music: "We Sat Together".
Generally, I should say frankly that I frequently receive many letters like yours (i.e. with suggestions for poems to be set to music), and for almost the first time I have the opportunity to reply with unqualified gratitude and a sincere expression of sympathy.
In my opinion, you are possessed of a natural talent, and I flatter myself that persons with more authority than I in matters of literary criticism will concur with my sincere opinion" .
In his letter of reply of 26 September/8 October 1892, Danyl Ratgauz excitedly thanked the composer for his encouragement, and sent him a further five poems . The words of four of them (Amid Sombre Days, In this Moonlight, Again, as Before, Alone and The Sun Has Set, were subsequently used by Tchaikovsky when he composed the romances. A fifth verse — In the Beautiful Half-Light of the Wood — was not used. The verses eventually used were as follows:
1. From the first poem in the cycle Romances (Романсы) (1892):
Мы сидели с тобой у заснувшей реки.
2. From an untitled poem (1892):
Меркнет слабый свет свечи,
3. From an untitled poem (1892):
В эту лунную ночь, в эту дивную ночь,
4. From the poem 'The Sun Has Set' (Закатилось солнце) (1892):
Закатилось солнце, заиграли краски
5. From the third poem in the cycle Romances (Романсы) (1892):
Средь мрачных дней, под гнетом бед,
6. From an untitled poem (1892):
Снова, как прежде, один,
Although Tchaikovsky later recalled that he had been "inflamed" with sympathetic feelings immediately after receiving Ratgauz's first letter and verses , it was not until the following year that he began composition, although a theme for We Sat Together (No. 4) is written on Ratgauz's letter of 26 September/8 October 1892, perhaps soon after it was received.
On 22 April/4 May 1893, immediately after completing the Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72 for piano, Tchaikovsky wrote to Modest from Moscow about his plans: "I need to remain here for four days... then I want to go to Nizhny... so I won't be back home before 30 April [[[Project:Old Style and New Style Dates|[O.S.]]]]. What's more, I absolutely have to leave for abroad on 10 May ... probably, I shall be in Petersburg on the 3rd. In the meantime, I might somehow manage to write another few romances." .
After composing the Op. 72 pieces. Tchaikovsky embarked on a conducting tour. From 22 April/4 May he spent five days in Moscow. and on 27 April/9 May he attended the premiere of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s opera Aleko at the Bolshoi Theatre. On 28 April/10 May Tchaikovsky left for Nizhny Novgorod , where he spent two days before returning to Moscow on 2/14 May , and then Kiev, where he stayed from 3/15 to 5/17 May. He had intended to leave for Saint Petersburg on 4/16 May and then to travel abroad on 5/17 May, as soon as he had written the romances. On this day (5/17 May), Tchaikovsky wrote to Pyotr Jurgenson: "I purposely allowed myself some free days at home, so that I could manage to copy out one more opus, namely six romances. Aleksey will bring them to you in a few days" . On the same day the composer informed Danyl Ratgauz that he had finished the romances: "I have just written six romances on your poems" . Another letter to the same recipient contains Tchaikovsky's only judgement on his latest romances: "I don't know what the fate of ourromances will be, but I know that I wrote them with great pleasure" . Ratgauz replied with warm thanks and sent the composer eight more verses, which the composer did not use.
The romance We Sat Together (No. 1) was performed, apparently for the first time, on 20 November/2 December 1893 at the first Tchaikovsky memorial symphony concert in Saint Petersburg; the romances Amid Sombre Days (No. 5) and Again, as Before, Alone (No. 6) were performed by Mikhail Medvedev at the second symphony concert of the Russian Musical Society in Kiev on 4/16 and 6/18 December 1893.
The romances were printed for the first time by Pyotr Jurgenson in July 1893 . "Our romances are already printed—but they are still not for sale because P. Jurgenson has an agreement with a foreign publisher to wait until they are ready to publish them" .
The Six Romances, Op. 73, were published in volume 45 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works (1940), edited by Ivan Shishov and Nikolay Shemanin.
All the romances are dedicated to the singer Nikolay Figner.
Notes and References
- Letter 4762 to Danyl Ratgauz, 30 August/11 September 1892.
- Letter from Danyl Ratgauz to Tchaikovsky, 26 September/8 October 1893 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
- Letter 4977 to Danyl Ratgauz, 19/31 July 1893.
- See Letter 4858 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 5/17 February 1893.
- Letter 4921 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 22–23 April/4–5 May 1893.
- See Letter 4922 to Aleksey Sofronov, 27 April/9 May 1893.
- See Letter 4923 to Pavel Pchelnikov, and Letter 4924 to Pyotr Jurgenson, both 2/14 May 1893.
- Letter 4929 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 5/17 May 1893.
- Letter 4927 to Danyl Ratgauz, 5/17 May 1893.
- Letter 4950 to Danyl Ratgauz, 3/15 June 1893.
- Passed by the censor on 23 June/5 July 1893. See also Letter 4967 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 3/15 July 1893.
- Letter 4977 to Danyl Ratgauz, 19/31 July 1893.