Tchaikovsky wrote his Military March in B-flat major (TH 150 ; ČW 52) in the spring of 1893 at the request of his cousin Andrey Tchaikovsky, who was the commander of the 98th Yurevsky Infantry Regiment.
Tchaikovsky provided only a piano score, with the instruction that the regimental bandmaster should arrange it for the forces at his disposal. The version published by Jurgenson after the composer's death was scored for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 4 clarinets (E-flat, B-flat), bass clarinet (B-flat), 2 bassoons + 3 cornets (E-flat, B-flat), 3 trumpets (E-flat, 3 tenor horns (B-flat), 4 horns (E-flat), euphonium, 3 trombones, 2 bass trombones + small drum and large drum.
- For more on William Henry Curry's 2015 adaptation of the march, including a live recording, see our discussion page.
Movements and Duration
There is one movement — Tempo di Marcia (B-flat major, 63 bars) — lasting approximately 4 minutes in performance.
The request was prompted by a desire for the regiment to have its own march, which was an essential tradition in the Imperial Russian army, and in a letter of 28 February/12 March 1893 Andrey Tchaikovsky explained the sort of march he wanted: "There should be three sections in all, with something melodic and increasingly noisy" . Tchaikovsky fulfilled the request on 24 March/6 April, after he returned from a conducting tour in Kharkov, and sent it to his cousin the following day, writing that: "In accordance with my promise I'm sending you the March. It will have to be orchestrated by your Kapellmeister, because I don't know the compliment of forces in your orchestra. I'm sending a rudimentary piano arrangement; let him orchestrate it in full, and, if necessary, noisily—but I ask that the substance must not be augmented or altered, i.e. the harmony and melody must remain untouched" .
The earliest sketches of the march were noted in the copybook containing the sketches of the Symphony No. 6, and the manuscript of the romance The Sun has Set — No. 4 of the Six Romances, Op. 73. Much later, the composer received another request from Andrey Tchaikovsky, this time for a trio for the march: "Going by your words that there just need to be 3 sections in all I didn't write a Trio for the march. Now I know that it's required I'm hurrying to send it to you", he replied on 5/17 May 1893 . The sketches for the trio were made by Tchaikovsky on the manuscript of the piece Passé lontain from the Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72.
The March was published by Pyotr Jurgenson in 1894 under the French title March militaire, in its original version for solo piano, as well as a full score and parts for military band. The arranger of the latter was not identified.
Only the solo piano version was published in volume 53 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Anatoly Drozdov (1949).
Tchaikovsky's autograph score of the piano version is preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive (a1, No. 81)
- See: Discography
The March was dedicated to the 98th Yurevsky Regiment.