The Voyevoda (melodrama)

Tchaikovsky Research

Tchaikovsky's melodrama for the Domovoy's monologue in Aleksandr Ostrovsky's comedy The Voyevoda (Воевода) was written in January 1886 (TH 22 ; ČW 20) [1]. It should not be confused with Tchaikovsky's first opera, The Voyevoda (1867-68), which was based on the same story.


The piece is scored for a small theatre orchestra comprising 2 flutes, oboe, clarinet (in B-flat), bassoon + harp, violins I, violins II, violas, cellos, and double basses.


There is one movement: Andante non troppo (G minor, 45 bars), lasting around 5 minutes in performance.


The music was written to accompany the monologue of the Domovoy (or House Spirit) in Aleksandr Ostrovsky's play The Voyevoda: Scenes from 17th-Century Peasant Life (Воевода: Сцены из народной жизни XVII века) (1886), which in its earlier incarnation as Dream on the Volga (Сон на Волге) (1865) served as the basis for Tchaikovsky's first opera The Voyevoda (1867–68); however, there is no musical connection between these works, or with the later symphonic ballad The Voyevoda after a poem by Mickiewicz.


In a letter of 6/18 January 1886, Ippolit Shpazhinsky passed on to Tchaikovsky a request from Aleksandr Ostrovsky to write music for the Domovoy's monologue in the revised version of his play The Voyevoda (1885), "which has some delightful verses. These verses should of course be set to quiet music in the orchestra, which should depict the sounds of night" [2]. Tchaikovsky responded favourably and immediately began composition, noting down the themes noted down on Shpazhinsky's letter, completing the instrumentation four days later on 17/29 January at Maydanovo [3].

Aleksandr Ostrovsky commissioned the remaining musical numbers for the piece from his friend the composer Vladimir Kashperov.


The production was scheduled for 12/24 January, but was postponed until 19/31 January 1886 on the stage of the Maly Theatre in Moscow, as a benefit performance for the artist Konstantin Rybakov. This seems to have been the only occasion on which Tchaikovsky's melodrama was performed during his lifetime.


The score was published in volume 14 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Irina Iordan (1962) [4].


Tchaikovsky's manuscript score is now preserved in the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in Moscow (ф. 905, No. 3).


See: Discography

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Entitled 'The Voevoda' in TH, and 'Music of the House-Spirit's Monologue to A.N. Ostrovskij's comedy "The Voyevoda"' in ČW.
  2. Letter from Ippolit Shpazhinsky to Tchaikovsky, 6/18 January 1886 — Russian State Archive for Literature and the Arts; see also letter from Ippolit Shpazhinsky to Tchaikovsky, 7/19 January 1886 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  3. See Letter 2852 to Nadezhda von Meck, 13/25 January 1886, and letter from Ippolit Shpazhinsky to Tchaikovsky, 17/29 January 1886 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  4. A facsimile of the autograph had already appeared in Чайковский на московской сцене. Первые постановки в годы его жизни (1940), p. 489-500.