Theme with Variations
Movements and Duration
The work consists of a theme and nine variations:
- Tema. Andante semplice (16 bars)
- Variation I. Andante (22 bars)
- Variation II. Un poco più mosso (22 bars)
- Variation III. Allegro scherzando (31 bars)
- Variation IV. Allegro con fuoco (42 bars)
- Variation V. Allegro moderato (26 bars)
- Variation VI. Andantino (56 bars)
- Variation VII. Presto (93 bars)
- Variation VIII. Adagio (36 bars)
- Variation IX. Allegro (38 bars).
The manuscript of this piece was discovered by Modest Tchaikovsky some fifteen years after the composer's death. In a letter to Sergey Taneyev of 5/18 November 1908, Modest Tchaikovsky wrote: "I have found some variations for piano, written by Petya in 1865–66. I am very, very pleased with it—perhaps because it brings back pleasant memories for me. Besides Anatoly and myself, no-one else has seen it yet, and I would like you to be the first" .
After the discovery of the manuscript Modest Tchaikovsky began negotiations with the firm of P. Jurgenson to publish the Theme with Variations. Sergey Taneyev was engaged put the work in order. In a letter of 2/15 January 1909, Boris Jurgenson informed Modest Tchaikovsky that Taneyev "brought us the corrected and edited manuscript of the Theme with Variations. The only problem is that he was unable to sort out the last variation (at the end of the manuscript), numbered as "(var. 5)". He said that in view of this. he could either devise another version of the fifth variation, or transfer another variation to the end, since there are others with more character. Sergey Ivanovich thought that perhaps that the original manuscript might help to resolve this uncertainty. Where is it now?" .
In the edition published by Jurgenson in 1909, the latter variation became No. 9, but with a note in smaller type "(var. 5)" in square brackets. Jurgenson's edition gives the date of composition as 1863–1864.
In 1945 the score was included in volume 51А of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Ivan Shishov.
The manuscript score was lost around the time of publication, and its subsequent whereabouts remain unknown.