The Golden Cloud Did Sleep
Scored for mixed voices (SATB), without accompaniment.
Movements and Duration
There is one movement: Allegro moderato (F minor, 50 bars), lasting around 2 minutes in performance.
The Russian words are by Mikhail Lermontov (1814–1841), from his poem The Rock (Утес) (1841).
In his diary entry for 2/14 July 1887, while staying at Borzhom, Tchaikovsky noted that he had been approached by three unknown men, who had asked him to write a chorus: "Can you imagine anything more absurd!!!" .
On 5/17 July the composer noted in his diary: "Attended to various matters". On this day he completed the chorus (according to the date on the manuscript).
In a letter of 4/17 February 1910, Boris Jurgenson told Modest Tchaikovsky: "Yesterday M. M. Ippolitov-Ivanov unexpectedly sent me the manuscript of a short still unpublished chorus by Pyotr Ilyich (for mixed voices) to Lermontov's words "The Golden Cloud Did Sleep". At the bottom is written "P. Tchaikovsky, 5 July 1887. Borzhom". The manuscript was given to M. M. Ippolitov-Ivanov by a Mrs Kaytmazova. who said that Pyotr Ilyich wrote this chorus in Borzhom at her request. The Russian Choral Society are really keen to perform it at their concert on 21 February [O.S.], and I granted permission for this before having spoken with you, and am having this chorus engraved and printed as a matter of urgency, being sure that you would have no objection, as in previous instances, to this chorus being published. I do not want to deprive the public of an opportunity to hear a performance of this unknown chorus... In a few days I shall send you the printed proofs of the chorus" .
Some time later Boris Jurgenson again wrote to Modest Tchaikovsky about the chorus: "It's just as well that I did not delay having it engraved. It turns out that Mrs Kaytmazova's family are intent on making a lot of money from the manuscript, and I expect that no other copies have been preserved" .
Boris Jurgenson was compelled to return the manuscript to its owner and to suspend publication until Mrs Kaytmazova had come to an agreement with the composer's heir. It could not be printed without permission, although the manuscript could still be sold. "She also said,", Boris Jurgenson continued in the same letter, "...that unless she is offered a serious sum for the manuscript (autograph), that you will be deprived of the opportunity to acquire it, and it will go to the dogs.". Evidently, Modest Tchaikovsky did not acquire the manuscript, and it was not published. But Boris Jurgenson, in his own words, "still managed to have it engraved", and subsequently in July 1910 he sent a specimen copy to Modest Tchaikovsky .
It was included in volume 43 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works (1941), edited by Ivan Shishov and Nikolay Shemanin.
Tchaikovsky's autograph score is now preserved in Tbilisi at the K. Kekelidze Institute of Manuscripts, Georgian Academy of Sciences (РОС, No. 330).