Swan Lake

Tchaikovsky Research

Swan Lake (Лебединое озеро), Op. 20 (TH 12 ; ČW 12), was the first of Tchaikovsky's ballet scores, composed between August 1875 and April 1876, with additions and revisions in February and April 1877. The ballet's original title, as indicated on the manuscript score, was The Lake of Swans or Lake of the Swans (Озеро лебедей), and its story derives from a German fairy tale.

After the composer's death, a revised version of the ballet was compiled by his brother Modest Tchaikovsky and the conductor Riccardo Drigo, which differs in many respects from the original score.


The ballet is scored for an orchestra comprising piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in A, B-flat, C), 2 bassoons + 4 horns (in F), 2 cornets (in A, B-flat), 2 trumpets (in D, E, F), 3 trombones, tuba + 3 timpani, triangle, tambourine, castanets, military drum, cymbals, bass drum, tam tam, glockenspiel + harp, violins I, violins II, violas, cellos, and double basses.

Movements and Duration

Tchaikovsky's original score contains an Introduction and 29 individual numbers as listed below, together with two supplementary numbers (Nos. 19a and 20a). This sequence differs from some versions produced after the composer's death. The titles of numbers in French (italic type) and Russian (Cyrillic) are taken from the published score, with English translations added in bold type.

Introduction (Интродукция)
Moderato assai (62 bars)
Act I No. 1 Scene (Scène ; Сцена)
Allegro giusto (109 bars)
No. 2 Waltz (Valse ; Вальс)
Tempo di Valse (399 bars)
No. 3 Scene (Scène ; Сцена)
Allegro moderato (125 bars)
No. 4 Pas de trois:
Intrada (Выход). Allegro (68 bars)
Andante sostenuto (66 bars)
Allegro semplice — Presto (72 bars)
Moderato (40 bars)
Allegro (59 bars)
Coda (Кода). Allegro vivace (64 bars)
No. 5 Pas de deux:
Tempo di Valse ma non troppo vivo, quasi Moderato (104 bars)
Andante — Allegro (164 bars)
Tempo di Valse (88 bars)
Coda (Кода). Allegro molto vivace (149 bars)
No. 6 Pas d'action
Andantino quasi Moderato — Allegro (75 bars)
No. 7 Subject (Sujet ; Сюхет) (16 bars)
No. 8 Goblet Dance (Danse des coupes ; Танец с кубками)
Tempo di Polacca (202 bars)
No. 9 Finale (Финал)
Andante (49 bars)
Act II No. 10 Scene (Scène ; Сцена)
Moderato (70 bars)
No. 11 Scene (Scène ; Сцена)
Allegro moderato — Moderato — Allegro vivo (274 bars)
No. 12 Scene (Scène ; Сцена)
Allegro — Moderato Assai quasi Andante (96 bars)
No. 13 Dances of the Swans (Danses des cygnes ; Танцы лебедей):
Tempo di Valse (140 bars)
Moderato assai (50 bars)
Dance of the Swans (Danse des cygnes ; Танец лебедей). Tempo di Valse (100 bars)
Allegro moderato (38 bars)
Pas d'action. Andante — Andante non troppo — Allegro (146 bars)
General Dance (Tous le monde danse ; Общий танец). Tempo di Valse (88 bars)
Coda (Кода). Allegro vivo (73 bars)
No. 14 Scene (Scène ; Сцена)
Moderato (70 bars)
Act III No. 15 Allegro giusto (176 bars)
No. 16 Dances of the Corps de Ballet and Dwarves (Danses du corps de ballet et des nains ; Танцы кордебалета и карликов)
Moderato Assai — Allegro vivo (136 bars)
No. 17 Scene. Arrival of the Guests and Waltz (Scène. La sortie des invités et la valse ; Сцена. Выход гостей и вальс)
Allegro — Tempo di Valse (382 bars)
No. 18 Scene (Scène ; Сцена)
Allegro (63 bars)
No. 19 Pas de six:
Intrada (Выход). Moderato assai (62 bars)
Allegro (65 bars)
Andante con moto (86 bars)
Moderato (38 bars)
Allegro (32 bars)
Moderato — Allegro semplice (66 bars)
Coda (Кода). Allegro molto (129 bars)
[No. 19a] Pas de deux:
Introduction (Интродукция). Moderato — Andante (55 bars)
Allegro moderato (25 bars)
Allegro (49 bars)
Allegro molto vivace (153 bars)
No. 20 Hungarian Dance: Czardas (Danse hongroise: Czardas ; Венгерский танец:Чардаш)
Moderato assai — Allegro moderato — Vivace (107 bars)
[No. 20a] Russian Dance (Danse russe ; Русский танец)
Moderato — Andante semplice — Allegro vivo — Presto (160 bars)
No. 21 Spanish Dance (Danse éspagnole ; Испанский танец)
Allegro non troppo. Tempo di Bolero (103 bars)
No. 22 Neapolitan Dance (Danse napolitaine ; Неаполитанский танец)
Allegro moderato — Andantino quasi Moderato — Presto (91 bars)
No. 23 Mazurka (Mazurka ; Мазурка)
Tempo di Mazurka (192 bars)
No. 24 Scene (Scène. Сцена)
Allegro — Valse — Allegro vivo (152 bars)
Act IV No. 25 Entr'acte (Антракт)
Moderato (33 bars)
No. 26 Scene (Scène ; Сцена)
Allegro non troppo (56 bars)
No. 27 Dances of the Little Swans (Danses des petits cygnes. Танцы маленьких лебедей)
Moderato (108 bars)
No. 28 Scene (Scène ; Сцена)
Allegro agitato (96 bars)
No. 29 Final Scene (Scène finale ; Финальная сцена)
Andante — Allegro agitato — Alla breve. Moderato e maestoso — Moderato (217 bars)

A complete performance of Swan Lake lasts around 140 minutes.


The ballet's libretto was printed for the premiere [1], in which the plot and text correspond to the scenario written by the composer in the manuscript score. However, the authorship of the libretto of Swan Lake has long been in doubt [2]. In his recollections of Tchaikovsky, Nikolay Kashkin names the supposed author of the libretto as Vladimir Begichev. In a letter to Herman Laroche of 9/21 September 1894 [3], Modest Tchaikovsky said that he had heard the same from Pyotr Jurgenson, but that "the Theatre Directorate's copy has the note: "property of Geltser" [i.e. Vasily Geltser, dancer with the Moscow Imperial Ballet]. The latter was probably responsible for writing down the subject". In his biography of the composer, Modest Tchaikovsky named Begichev and Geltser as joint authors of the libretto. The newly discovered materials from the music archive of Bolshoy theatre fully support Nikolay Kashkin's assumption and also give us the name of the dancer for whom the ballet was written, the prima ballerina Lidiya Geyten, who took part in rehearsals until she decided its music was not for her.[4].


The action takes place in medieval Germany:

Act I. The scene represents part of a magnificent park, with a castle visible in the distance. An elegant bridge crosses a nearby stream. Prince Siegfried and his friends are seated at tables, drinking wine, and celebrating the eve of his coming of age. A crowd of peasants come to congratulate the prince. His elderly tutor Wolfgang invites them to entertain the Prince with their dances. The peasants agree. The prince orders wine for them, and the women are given flowers and ribbons. After a grand waltz, Siegfried's mother arrives unexpectedly, and tells him that he must choose a bride the next day, at a ball to be held for that purpose. Siegfried reluctantly agrees, and his mother departs. The Prince declares that this means an end to their carefree life. His friend Benno, a knight, consoles him. They resume their places and the party continues, with divertissements for the peasants and revellers. Wolfgang decides to join the dancing, but wine and age have fuddled his movements and he falls, leaving others to finish the dance. Evening approaches with the setting sun, and one of the guests proposes that the last dance shall be with their goblets in their hands. A flock of swans appears in the air, and Benno suggests a hunt. Wolfgang proposes to go to bed. The Prince appears to agree with Wolfgang, but as soon as his tutor leaves, he takes his gun and hurries off with Benno in the direction the swans were flying.

Act II opens in a mountain landscape, with forests on all sides. In the background is a lake, shimmering in the moonlight. On the right bank are the ruins of a chapel. A swan wearing a crown on its head leads the other swans as they glide majestically across the surface of the lake. The Prince and Benno enter. Siegfried sees the swans and prepares to fire, but they disappear behind the ruins, which are then illuminated by a magical light. The two men decide to investigate, and as they approach, a young girl comes down the staircase, wearing a white dress and the crown on her head. She asks Siegfried why he wishes to persecute her. She tells him that she is the Princess Odette, the unwanted stepdaughter of an evil sorceress who is trying to kill her. She is protected by her crown, which was given to her by her grandfather. Only the marriage vow can break the spell, which holds her and the other girls bound as swans by day and humans by night. An evil sorceress appears in the guise of an owl and menaces Siegfried. Then a flock of swan maidens and children appear and reproach the young huntsmen. Odette tells them to desist since she considers him to be no threat to them. Siegfried throws away his weapon. The swans dance, and Siegfried confesses the love he has began to feel for Odette. She reminds him of the ball planned for the next day, and its purpose, but Siegfried swears his love despite this. Odette promises him she will attend the ball tomorrow. As dawn breaks. Odette and her friends withdraw into the ruins, and reappear on the lake as swans.

Act III. In the castle ballroom, Wolfgang orders the servants to admit the guests, and they are followed by the Prince's mother, Siegfried and their retinue of pages and dwarves, who perform a dance. The Master of Ceremonies signals the revels to commence, and new guests are announced, including an old count with his wife and daughter, who begins to dance with one of the knights. Six eligible princesses arrive with their parents, and each daughter dances for Siegfried. After several such entrances, the Siegfried's mother instructs her son to make a choice, but he cannot. Annoyed, she calls Wolfgang to talk some sense into him. Fanfares sound anew, and Baron von Rothbart enters with Odile. Siegfried is struck by Odile's likeness to Odette. He even asks Benno to affirm her resemblance to Odette, but his friend sees none. Siegfried delightedly welcomes Odile, and the ball recommences. Dances follow for the visiting Princesses, a Pas de deux for Siegfried and Odile, and dancers from many nations. The Prince's mother is delighted that Siegfried is taken with Odile. He announces that he will marry her, and kisses Odile's hand. The Prince's mother and von Rothbart join their hands. The scene then darkens, and an owl cries out, as von Rothbart is revealed as a demon. Odette appears helplessly at a window as white swan, while Odile laughs loudly. Siegfried is horrified, and flings away the hand of his newly betrothed. Clutching his breast, he rushes out of the castle.

Act IV. Back at the lakeside clearing, the Swan maidens await Odette by the lake, unable to understand where their queen has gone. The young swans dance while they wait. Odette eventually returns in despair and tells the others that she has been betrayed, and no hope remains. Against their advice, Odette lingers to spend one last moment with Siegfried, who rushes in. As a storm rises, Siegfried begs Odette's forgiveness, but she feels powerless to forgive him, and she tries to run away towards the ruins. The Prince catches up with her, grasps her hand and desperately exclaims that she will remain with him forever. Then he takes the crown from her head and throws it into the stormy lake. An owl flies screeching overhead, holding Odette's crown in its claws. Odette dies in the Prince's arms. The sad last song of the swan is heard. Both lovers are engulfed by the overflowing lake. As the waters subside, swans are seen gliding across the calm surface of the lake.[5]


The ballet was commissioned from Tchaikovsky by the Directorate of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow during the spring of 1875. Nikolay Kashkin [6] recalled that the composer was persuaded to write a ballet on a mythical subject from the time of medieval knights, but there is very little reliable information on the process of composition. Kashkin insisted that the composer began to work on the ballet in the spring and that the first act "was already written by the end of the conservatory examinations", although he mistakenly dates this to the spring of 1876 (by which time the ballet had been completely orchestrated).

Tchaikovsky himself first mentioned the ballet in a letter to Sergey Taneyev of 14/26 August 1875 written from Verbovka, where he had arrived on 18/30 July and finished his Symphony No. 3 (completed on 1/13 August): "I have written (in outline) two acts for a ballet The Lake of Swans". In this same letter he mentions that he is tired, adding: "After my exertions of the last few days, I really intend to take a break before returning to Moscow. I don't want to think about music this coming term" [7]. On 10/22 September he wrote to Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov from Moscow: "I spent the summer in various provinces staying with friends and relatives. I worked rather diligently and, apart from the symphony, I wrote (in outline) two acts of a ballet. At the behest of the Moscow Directorate I am writing the music for the ballet "Lake of the Swans". I took this work on partly for the money, which I need, and partly because I have long wanted to try my hand at writing this type of music" [8]. On 14/26 August the composer reported to Modest Tchaikovsky: "I am diligently writing the ballet" [9].

It is not possible to ascertain exactly when the sketches were completed and the instrumentation was begun. On the fair copy of the manuscript, after Act I, No. 3 is the autograph date: "13 October 1875 [O.S.]. Moscow". Evidently at this point the rough sketches had already been completed, and the composer had embarked on the instrumentation of the ballet.

Besides composing Lake of the Swans, Tchaikovsky had to attend to a number of other tasks. On 12/24 November 1875, in a letter to Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, we read: "I am drowning in a flood of work. Besides a ballet, which I am rushing to finish as soon as possible so that I can start on an opera, I have a mass of proofs and—worst of all—a commitment to write some musical articles" [10]. On 11/23 December the same year, the composer wrote to Anatoly Tchaikovsky: "If only you knew how after writing articles, scoring the ballet, conservatory classes, and so forth, how difficult it is for me to find the time to carry on a discussion with you" [11].

On 20 December 1875/1 January 1876, Tchaikovsky went abroad, where he began to write his String Quartet No. 3. On 10/22 February 1876, the composer told Modest Tchaikovsky: "After the quartet I want to take a break, i.e. just finish the ballet, and not write anything else" [12]. The quartet was finished on 18 February/1 March (according to the date on the manuscript score).

On 17/29 March, in a letter to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, we read: "I'm up to my neck in the instrumentation of the ballet, which must be ready without fail by St. Thomas's Week. Since I still have 2½ acts still to work through, I've decided to devote Holy Week and Easter Week to finishing this endlessly tedious process. And in order to work properly, I need to leave here for two weeks, otherwise nothing will get done" [13]. In the same letter he reported that he was going to see Konstantin Shilovsky at Glebovo.

On 24 March/5 April, Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother Modest: "At the end of this week I am leaving to spend the whole of Holy Week and Easter in Kostya Shilovsky's village [at Glebovo]. I want to get away from all the bustle and clamour of the festivities in Moscow, and to work properly on the ballet, which has to be finished as soon as possible. Yesterday in the hall of the Theatrical School there was a rehearsal of a few numbers from the first act of this ballet". And below he added: "The whole theatre was delighted with my music" [14].

Tchaikovsky remained at Glebovo from 28 March/9 April until 12/24 April, and then returned to Moscow with the completed full score of The Lake of Swans. The author's date at the end of the manuscript reads: "The End!!! Glebovo 10 April 1876".

Evidently the full score of Act I was in the hands of the theatre before Tchaikovsky left on his foreign travels. This would seem to be a contradiction between his letter of 17/29 March, stating there were "2½ acts still to do", and his subsequent letter of 24 March/5 April, where he referred to rehearsals of the first act having taken place. In a report from the inspector of music, Yury Gerber, to the Directorate of the Moscow Theatres, we read: "I have the honour of informing the Directorate that on this day I received from Mr Tchaikovsky the remaining 3 acts of the ballet Swan Lake—Mr Tchaikovsky asked me to petition the Directorate for payment of the balance of his fee". This report was received by Pavel Kavelin on 12/24 April 1876 [15].

After finishing the ballet, Tchaikovsky was asked to write two supplementary numbers. The first of these pieces is described on the manuscript score as: "Russian Dance for the third act of Lake of the Swans (for Madame. Karpakova)". This dance was performed by the principal ballerina in all productions of the ballet during the composer's lifetime. The second number, Pas de deux, was apparently written at the request of another ballerina, Anna Sobeshchanskaya, whose benefit took place on 28 April/10 May 1877. The origins of this Pas de deux are described in Pavel Pchelnikov's recollections of Tchaikovsky [16]. The former was told the story by the conductor Stepan Ryabov. Without naming the ballerina, Pchelnikov reported that she went to Saint Petersburg to ask the balletmaster Marius Petipa if he could furnish her with a Pas de deux. The number was set to music by the composer Ludwig Minkus. Not wanting to allow music by others in his ballet, Tchaikovsky wrote his own Pas de deux, preserving the length and divisions of Minkus' piece [17].

According to Pavel Pchelnikov's account, up to the end of the 1878/79 season the ballerina Pelageya Karpakova danced a Pas de six in Act III, and later a Pas de cinq or Pas de dix (from 1878), while the ballerina Anna Sobeshchanskaya always danced a Pas de deux after a Pas de cinq. Furthermore, ballerina Yevdokiya Kalmykova, who performed the role of Odette in a new production by the balletmaster Joseph Peter Hansen (1880), danced the Pas de deux in Act III [18].


The Introduction alone was arranged for piano solo by the composer in 1875 or 1876, and this was published with Nikolay Kashkin's arrangement of the rest of the ballet, which had been made at the request of Tchaikovsky himself. On 16/28 September 1876, Tchaikovsky wrote to Pyotr Jurgenson: "Kashkin will be coming over today to play the first and second acts of the ballet. Would you like to hear it? Albrecht will be there as well" [19]. Nikolay Kashkin wrote about his work on the arrangement in his memoirs: "The principle objective of my arrangement of the ballet was, where possible, to preserve all the main lines in the full score, which was not a particularly easy task. When he came to review it, the author simplified a few places of little musical importance, while elsewhere he even added a few grace notes. These additions could not be played on the piano, but, probably imagining the printed orchestral score of the ballet, the composer inserted these details simply because he took it into his head that the music would read better that way" [20].


See Swan Lake (suite)

In 1882, Tchaikovsky considered creating a suite from the music to Swan Lake, but it was only seven years after his death that such a suite was finally published, and it is unknown who made the selection of numbers.


Original Version

The first performance of the ballet took place in Moscow, on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre, on 20 February/4 March 1877, at a benefit for the ballerina Pelageya Karpakova, choreographed by Julius Reisinger, and conducted by Stepan Ryabov. The soloists were: Pelageya Karpakova (Odette/Odile), Olga Nikolayeva (Princess), Stanislav Gillert (Siegfried), Wilhelm Vanner (Wolfgang), S. G. Nikitin (Benno), Sergey Sokolov (Von Rothbart), Kuznetsov (Master of Ceremonies), Fyodor Reinshausen (Baron von Stein), Polyakova (Baroness von Stein). The production went well, and it remained in the repertoire until the 1882/83 season [21], after which it was not performed again in Russia during the composer's lifetime. There are few surviving accounts by Tchaikovsky concerning his ballet. In 1877, after seeing Delibes' ballet Sylvia in Vienna, the composer wrote to Nadezhda von Meck that Swan Lake was poorer by far than Sylvia [22].

None of Tchaikovsky's other stage works were subject to such changes and misrepresentation in productions as Swan Lake. Unfortunately, up to the present time it is still not possible to find materials which would show conclusively how the ballet was performed during the composer's lifetime. Some information can be gleaned by comparing posters from the first three productions of the ballet on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Judging by the list of dance numbers, Julius Reisinger did not introduce any significant changes to the full score. It is impossible to tell from the titles of the individual dances whether the music was authentic. Nevertheless, bearing in mind the history of the Pas de deux, we might suppose that at the first production the music was performed in accordance with the author's full score, apart from small changes in the order of numbers and, possibly, some cuts (evidently a Pas de cinq and Pas de dix dances replaced the Pas de deux discussed above). When the ballet was revived in 1880, the choreographer Hansen took greater liberties with the score. It is not known whether he introduced new music, but in any case much of the music was cut, including the Pas de six in Act III. It seems that the plot of the ballet was also changed, judging from some annotations to the list of dances performed. Thus, Odette was transformed from a good fairy in the original version into a Queen of the Swans, and the appearance of the magician Rothbart in Act IV was not preserved from the first version. At the time of the third production, in 1882, Hansen introduced further changes, and added a new dance in Act III for the ballerina Lydia Geiten—Cosmopolitan, to music by Cesare Pugni, which had no relevance whatsoever to the ballet.

On 4/16 April 1886, in reply to a letter from Pyotr Jurgenson, in which the publisher reported that Ivan Vsevolozhsky wanted to present an act from Swan Lake in a partially open-air performance, and asking which act would be best, Tchaikovsky wrote: "Out of the four acts I must choose the second, and not the fourth as you suggested. So don't forget: the second" [23].

On 9/21 February 1888, Act II of Swan Lake was performed on the stage of the National Theatre in Prague, in the presence of the composer. The conductor was Adolf Čech, and the balletmaster was Augustin Berger, with Giulietta Paltrinieri-Bergrova as Odette, and August Berger in the role of Siegfried (renamed "Prince Jaroslav" in this production). This was the first production of a Russian ballet outside its native land, and it was repeated at the National Theatre a further seven times before the end of April 1888 [24].

Posthumous Version

Although the version of the ballet widely promulgated in the 20th century originated after the composer's death, it still played an important part in popularising Tchaikovsky's music and revealing the musical dramaturgy of his first ballet.

On 17 February/1 March 1894 in Saint Petersburg, there was a memorial performance for Tchaikovsky, at which Act II of Swan Lake was staged by the balletmaster Lev Ivanov, and conductor Riccardo Drigo. In the same year, Ivan Vsevolozhsky decided to produce the complete ballet, and asked Modest Tchaikovsky to rewrite the libretto [25]. In a letter to Modest Tchaikovsky of 17/29 August 1894, Ivan Vsevolozhsky wrote: "I am eagerly awaiting the refashioned libretto of the ballet. I hope that you have managed to leave out the flood in the last scene... and later on the Prince taking the crown from the head of his beloved swan and destroying it? All this is confusing. I cannot order the scenery until the story is decided upon, but there is plenty of time" [26]. In a subsequent letter to Modest Tchaikovsky of 28 August/9 September the same year, Vsevolozhsky thanked him for sending the "refashioned libretto", and stated that he had passed it to the balletmaster Lev Ivanov "for consultation with R. Drigo" [27]. In a letter of 31 August/12 September 1894, the conductor Riccardo Drigo told Modest Tchaikovsky that he expected to return to Saint Petersburg to meet with Ivanov and Petipa, and discuss with them the musical setting of each number in the ballet, "taking pains to ensure that as far as possible, I hope, you will be satisfied with the outcome" [28].

The production of the ballet in this version with new music took place on 15/27 January 1895 on the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, at a benefit performance for the ballerina Pierina Legnani (who performed the roles of Odette/Odile), with choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, and conducted by Riccardo Drigo. Other soloists included: Pavel Gerdt (Siegfried), Stanislav Gillert (Wolfgang), Aleksandr Oblakov (Benno) and Aleksey Bulgakov (Von Rothbart). For this production, three piano pieces by Tchaikovsky were inserted into the ballet, namely Nos. 11, 12 and 15 from the Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72, orchestrated by Drigo. In Moscow, this version of the ballet was staged on 5/17 May 1896. As in the 1880 production, and in all subsequent ones, Swan Lake was never performed in its entirety (i.e. as in the autograph full score).

The ballet was only performed with the music intact for the first time on the stage of the Chernyshevsky State Opera and Ballet Theatre in Saratov (1955/56 season).

An abridged version of Swan Lake by Mikhail Fokine was performed at the Hippodrome Theatre in London on 3/16 May 1910. The first complete performance in Great Britain took place in the Sadler's Wells Theatre in London on 29 November 1934, with balletmaster Nicholas Sergeyev, and Alicia Markova (Odette/Odile) and Robert Helpman (Siegfried).

In the United States, an abridged version by Mikhail Mordkin was performed in New York on 6/19 December 1911, with Ekaterina Gelster as Odette, and Mikhail Mordkin as Siegfried. The ballet's first complete production was in San Francisco, on 27 September 1940, with soloists including Jacquelin Martin (Odette), Janet Reed (Odile), Lew Christensen (Siegfried), choreographed by William Christensen.


Nikolay Kashkin's piano arrangement of Swan Lake appeared in an edition by Pyotr Jurgenson in February 1877 (for the premiere). In 1895, Jurgenson published the full score of the ballet corresponding to the composer's manuscript score, with an appendix containing the Russian Dance (Act III, No. 20a), but not the additional Pas de deux (Act III, No. 20a). At this time, the Russian text of the libretto, included in the full score, was translated into the French language [29]. In the same year, Jurgenson reprinted Nikolay Kashkin's piano score with the Russian text of the libretto, with an appendix including the Russian Dance [30].

When the full score was published in 1895, Pyotr Jurgenson commissioned a new arrangement of the ballet for two hands, made by Eduard Langer of Riccardo Drigo's version (the latter's orchestrations of the Op. 72 pieces were issued separately). The title page of the edition of this score carried a note explaining that the pieces inserted into the ballet were Tchaikovsky's own, and had been orchestrated by Drigo.

In 1951, a violin répétiteur [31] was discovered for the additional Pas de deux, which included the names: "Sobeshchanskaya—Gillert. Kalmykova—Bekefi". With this piece was a rough draft of the coda from the Pas de deux, now preserved in the archive of the Klin House-Museum. The Adagio, variation 1 and coda from the Pas de deux was orchestrated by the composer Vissarion Shebalin in 1952, and published for the first time as a supplement to the rest of the full score in 1957 in volume 11 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Irina Iordan & Georgy Kirkor. Tchaikovsky's orchestration for the 2nd variation has survived. The same editors also published Nikolay Kashkin's solo piano arrangement, in volume 56 of the same series.


Tchaikovsky's manuscript score of the complete ballet (except Nos. 19a and 20a) is now preserved in four volumes in the Russian National Museum of Music in Moscow:

  • Introduction and Act I (ф. 88, No. 49а) [view]
  • Act II (ф. 88, No. 49b) [view]
  • Act III (ф. 88, No. 49v) [view]
  • Act IV (ф. 88, No. 49g) [view]

The same archive also holds his solo piano arrangement of the Introduction (ф. 88, No. 50) [view].

The autograph score of the additional Russian Dance (Act III, No. 20a) is now in the Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve at Klin (a1, No. 35).

The whereabouts of the composer's autograph of the additional Pas de deux (Act III, No. 19) are unknown, although his sketches for the coda are also preserved in the archive of the Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve (a1, No. 225) at Klin.


See: Discography

Related Works

In parts of Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky used music from his earlier destroyed operas:

  • Act II, No. 13. In the Dances of the Swans, the Andante (G-flat major) section of the 5th variation is based on the final duet of Undina and Huldbrandt from Act III of the opera Undina (1869) [32].
  • Act IV, No. 25. This was originally written as the Entr'acte to Act III of the opera The Voyevoda (1867-68) [33].
  • Act IV, No. 29. The opening 25 bars of the Final Scene are taken from a scene (Act III, No. 2) in The Voyevoda.

Conversely, some numbers from the ballet were adapted by Tchaikovsky in later works:

  • Act III, No. 20a. An abridged version of the Russian Dance was used as the Russian Dance (No. 10) from the Twelve Pieces, Op. 40 for piano (1878).
  • Act III, No. 22. The Neapolitan Dance is based on an Italian folk tune, and was later adapted for piano solo as the Neapolitan Song (No. 18) from the Children's Album.

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Printed by I. I. Mirnov of Kudrin (Moscow, 1877).
  2. See Roland John Wiley, Tchaikovsky's ballets. Swan Lake. Sleeping Beauty. Nutcracker (1985), p. 32–38.
  3. Letter from Modest Tchaikovsky to Herman Laroche, 9/21 September 1894 — (Klin House-Museum Archive).
  4. See Sergey Konayev, П. И. Чайковский. Лебединое озеро. Балет в 4-х действиях (2015), pp. 7-42.
  5. Taken from The Tchaikovsky Handbook. A guide to the man and his music, vol. 1 (2002), p. 100–101.
  6. Nikolay Kashkin, Воспоминания о П. И. Чайковском (1896), pp. 117–119.
  7. Letter 409 to Sergey Taneyev, 14/26 August 1875.
  8. Letter 412 to Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, 10/22 September 1875.
  9. Letter 413 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 14/26 September 1875.
  10. Letter 417 to Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, 12/24 September 1875.
  11. Letter 425 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 11/23 December 1875.
  12. Letter 445 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 10/22–11/23 February 1876.
  13. Letter 453 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 17/29 March 1876.
  14. Letter 457 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 24 March/5 April 1876.
  15. Russian State Archive for Literature and the Arts. This report contains the curious decision by Pavel Kavelin: "Permission is granted to pay Mr. Tchaikovsky the outstanding 400 rubles, but in accordance with my first decision, this fee is to be paid from the receipts from the first four performances of the ballet (at 100 rubles per night)".
  16. Русская музыкальная газета (1900), p. 1084.
  17. At the later revival of the ballet, neither of these additional numbers from Swan Lake were performed, but instead they were included in other ballets staged at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Thus, the Russian Dance was performed in the ballet Konek-Gorbunok, and the variations and coda from the Pas de deux in the ballet Le corsaire.
  18. Russian State Archive for Literature and the Arts in Moscow. Another story which would seem to bear this account concerns Anna Sobeshchanskaya and Julius Reisinger's production of the new ballet Ariadne (music by Yuly Gerber) at the start of the 1877–78 season. Sobeshchanskaya commissioned all Ariadne's solo dances and the Dances of the Amazons from Marius Petipa, who was even named on the posters.
  19. Letter 496 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 16/28 September 1876.
  20. Nikolay Kashkin, Воспоминания о П. И. Чайковском (1896), pp. 118–119.
  21. Between 1880 and 1882 the ballet was staged twenty times.
  22. See Letters 655 and 661 to Nadezhda von Meck, 21 November/3 December 1877 and 26 November/8 December 1877.
  23. Letter 2927 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 4/16 April 1886.
  24. See: http://archiv.narodni-divadlo.cz/default.aspx?jz=cs&dk=Titul.aspx&sz=0&ti=65&abc=0&pn=256affcc-f203-2000-85ff-c11223344aaa
  25. In his Memoirs (Saint Petersburg, 1908), Marius Petipa claimed that he himself staged the performance of Swan Lake in Saint Petersburg. But there is considerable doubt as to the authenticity of this claim.
  26. Letter from Ivan Vsevolozhsky to Modest Tchaikovsky, 17/29 August 1894 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  27. Letter from Ivan Vsevolozhsky to Modest Tchaikovsky, 26 August/7 September 1894 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  28. Letter from Riccardo Drigo to Modest Tchaikovsky, 31 August/12 September 1894 — Klin House-Museum Archive. See also Drigo's pencil notes and cuts marked on Act II of the autograph full score.
  29. A French translation is written in red ink on the original manuscript score of the ballet.
  30. The revised edition of Kashkin's piano score was altered to correspond to the later version of the ballet by Modest Tchaikovsky.
  31. An arrangement of the music for two violins, used during rehearsals of the ballet.
  32. See sketches for the duet in the Klin House-Museum Archive, and also Nikolay Kashkin, Воспоминания о П. И. Чайковском (1896), p. 87.
  33. The theme of this entr'acte was also used in the opening of the duet "Tikho luna vzoydet" (Act II, No. 7) in the opera.