Handbook for Instrumentation (Gevaert)

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The Handbook for Instrumentation (Руководство к инструментовке) (TH 329 ; ČW 628) [1] is Tchaikovsky's translation of the Traité général d'instrumentation. Exposé méthodique des principes de cet art dans leur application á l'orchestre, á la musique d'harmonie et de fanfares, etc by the Belgian composer and music historian François Auguste Gevaert (1828-1908).


Gevaert's Traité was first published in Belgium in 1863, and only two years later Tchaikovsky's tutor Anton Rubinstein set him the task of translating the French text into Russian. This was accomplished during the summer of 1865, while Tchaikovsky was staying with his sister at Kamenka in the Ukraine, and he introduced his own comments and musical examples (mainly from works by Glinka) into Gevaert's original text. The completed manuscript was submitted to Rubinstein in January 1866 on Tchaikovsky's graduation from the Saint Petersburg Conservatory.


At the end of 1866 Pyotr Jurgenson published Tchaikovsky's translation [2], with the subtitle "Translated from the French with the addition of score examples from Russian works by Professor P. I. Tchaikovsky. This work has been accepted as a handbook in the conservatories of Moscow and Saint Petersburg [3], for which Tchaikovsky was paid 25 rubles [4]. It was reprinted by Jurgenson in 1902, and included in volume III-Б of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works (1961), edited by Vladimir Protopopov.


Tchaikovsky's autograph manuscript is now preserved in the Russian National Museum of Music in Moscow (ф. 88, No. 170) [view].

Notes and References

  1. Entitled "Guide to Orchestration" in ČW.
  2. Passed by the censor on 24 October/5 November 1866.
  3. F. A. Gevaert, Музыкальные заметки. Консерваторские солисты и композитор (1866).
  4. See Letter 95a to Pyotr Jurgenson, 11/23 August 1866.