Jurisprudence March

Tchaikovsky's Jurisprudence March (Правоведский марш) in D major (TH 52 ; ČW 49) [1], also known as Jurists' March or Marche solonelle, was written and orchestrated in October and November 1885, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in Saint Petersburg, of which Tchaikovsky was a graduate.


The March is scored for an orchestra consisting of piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets (in A), 2 bassoons + 4 horns (in F), 2 trumpets (in D), 3 trombones, tuba + 3 timpani, triangle, military drum, cymbals, bass drum + 2 harps, violins I, violins II, violas, cellos, and double basses.

Tchaikovsky noted in the manuscript score that "Two harps are highly desirable, but if necessary one shall suffice".


There is one movement: Allegro risoluto (D major, 140 bars), lasting around 5 minutes in performance.


In Saint Petersburg in December 1885, celebrations were being prepared for the fiftieth jubilee of the Imperial School of Jurisprudence. As early as the spring of that year, the school's director of students, Ivan Alopeus had begun discussions with Tchaikovsky about commissioning from him some musical numbers for the gala jubilee evening. Only two letters survive from Alopeus to Tchaikovsky, although there were undoubtedly more. In reply to a letter from Tchaikovsky that has not survived, Alopeus wrote on 26 June/8 July 1885: "With regard to the march, there is almost nothing more I can tell you, since the programme for the occasion has still not been completely decided upon" [2]. However, on 10/22 October the former jurist and member of the jubilee committee Nikolay Stoyanovsky again approached the composer with a request that he should write a short orchestral piece in the style of a march, which might be performed during the jurists' jubilee dinner on 5/17 December, and also subsequently on festive occasions [3]. Tchaikovsky, who was then staying at Kamenka, reluctantly agreed, notwithstanding his dislike for this type of commission.

He set about composition on 27 October/8 November 1885, as he wrote to Nadezhda von Meck: "On the one hand, writing such a thing is deeply boring and disagreeable, yet on the other it would be awkward to refuse. So here today I have been seated in front of music paper for some time now, devising themes for the march, which for all that I am determined to write and orchestrate at Kamenka" [4].

On 4/16 November in a letter to Praskovya Tchaikovskaya, he reported that: "Despite an absolute aversion, I have not even risen from my seat trying to finish the march" [5]. The completed manuscript is dated 5/17 November 1885 [6], and that same day the composer sent the full score to Saint Petersburg [7].


The Jurists' March was performed for the first time, as intended, on 5/17 December 1885 in the Hall of the Nobles' Club in Saint Petersburg, at the occasion of the jurists' jubilee dinner, in the absence of its author. "I very much do not want to be present at the festivities", Tchaikovsky wrote to Vladimir Stasov on 27 November/9 December 1885, "if only because the march that I was commissioned to write shall be performed, and to hear it would be excruciating for me" [8].


The full score and parts were published by Pyotr Jurgenson in October 1894, under the title Marche solonelle.

The Jurists's March was published in volume 26 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works (1961), edited by Irina Iordan.


Tchaikovsky's manuscript score is now preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive (a1, No. 57).


See: Discography


"To the memory of the founder of the School", i.e. Prince Pyotr of Oldenburg (1812–1881).

Related Works

See also the Jurists' Song.

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Entitled Jurists' March in ČW.
  2. Letter from Ivan Alopeus to Tchaikovsky, 26 June/8 July 1885 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  3. Letter from Nikolay Stoyanovsky to Tchaikovsky, 10/22 October 1885 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  4. Letter 2500 to Nadezhda von Meck, 27 October/8 November 1885.
  5. Letter 2805 to Praskovya Tchaikovskaya, 4/16 November 1885.
  6. See also Letter 2806 to Nadezhda von Meck, 5/17 November 1885.
  7. See Letter 2807 to Praskovya Tchaikovskaya, 9/21 November 1885.
  8. Letter 2822 to Vladimir Stasov, 27 November/9 December 1885.