The Angel Cried Out

Tchaikovsky's chorus The Angel Cried Out (Ангел вопияше) (TH 81 ; ČW 88) was composed on 18 February/2 March 1887 at Maydanovo for the Russian Choral Society.

Instrumentation

Scored for unaccompanied mixed voices (SATB).

Movements and Duration

There is one movement (G major, 47 bars), with a Cyrillic tempo marking of 'Очень умеренно' (very moderately). A performance lasts around 3 minutes.

Text

The text of the chorus comes from a traditional Russian Orthodox Easter hymn, based on St. John's Gospel [1].

Composition

As early as the autumn of 1886 Tchaikovsky promised to write something for a concert of the Russian Choral Society, in which he played a significant role, as is evident from a letter from Ivan Popov: "May I take this opportunity to ask you, if it is possible for you to carry out the promise which you made to us last autumn, to write a new composition for this concert?" [2]. The concert was scheduled for February or March 1887, and the completed manuscript is dated 18 February/2 March 1887.

Performances

The chorus was performed at Russian Choral Society concert in Moscow on 8/20 March 1887, conducted by Fyodor Ivanov.

Publication

The chorus remained unpublished during the composer's lifetime, since the manuscript of the composition was in the possession of the Choral Society, and no-one else knew of it. The manuscript was eventually found in 1906, after Tchaikovsky's death. Boris Jurgenson wrote to Modest Tchaikovsky on 25 September/7 October that year: "During one of our last meetings I spoke to you about I have spoken to before you about how I tracked down in the Moscow area an (undoubtedly) authentic manuscript of Pyotr Ilyich's—a religious chorus: The Angel Cried Out... We should like to publish this without delay" [3].

The choral score and parts were published by Jurgenson in October 1906. In 1990 it was included in volume 63 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Lyudmila Korabelnikova and Marina Rakhmanova.

Autographs

Tchaikovsky's manuscript score is now preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive (a1, No. 101).

Recordings

See: The Angel Cried Out: Recordings

Notes and References

  1. We are most grateful to Dorothea Redepenning for identifying the source of this liturgical text. See the ninth song on https://www.molitvoslov.com/text901.htm (accessed 26 April 2016).
  2. Letter from Ivan Popov to Tchaikovsky. 30 December 1886/11 January 1887 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  3. Letter from Boris Jurgenson to Modest Tchaikovsky, 25 September/8 October 1906 — Klin House-Museum Archive.