String Quartet No. 3
Scored for 2 violins, viola and cello.
Movements and Duration
There are four movements:
- Andante sostenuto–Allegro moderato (E-flat minor, 629 bars)
- Allegretto vivo e scherzando (B-flat major, 169 bars)
- Andante funebre e doloroso, ma con moto (E-flat minor, 134 bars)
- Finale. Allegro non troppo e risoluto (E-flat major, 360 bars)
A complete performance lasts around 35 to 40 minutes.
Tchaikovsky began to work on the quartet between 3/15 and 10/22 January 1876 in Paris . On 26 January he returned to Moscow, from where on 10/22 February he wrote to Anatoly Tchaikovsky and Modest Tchaikovsky about his work on the quartet: "All my time... is dedicated to composing the quartet, which is already written but not yet scored" . "I'm now working full steam ahead to finish the quartet which, you may remember, I began in Paris" .
The quartet was finished on 18 February/1 March 1876, according to the date on the manuscript score. Tchaikovsky's notes on the autograph indicate that originally the 'Andante funebre e doloroso' was meant to be the second movement, and the 'Allegretto vivo e scherzando' the third. It also appears that the composer made cuts in the first movement (12 bars after bar 210, 4 bars after bar 222, 12 bars after bar 511 and 4 bars after bar 521) around the time of the first performances in 1876.
- See Andante funebre
The third movement was also arranged for violin with piano by Tchaikovsky in 1876, as Andante funebre.
The quartet was performed for the first time during a soirée at Nikolay Rubinstein's apartment on 2/14 March 1876 . A further private performance took place at the Moscow Conservatory on 16/28 March 1876, with Jan Hřímalý and Adolph Brodsky (violins), Yury Gerber (viola), and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen (cello). The same performers gave the work its public premiere on 18/30 March 1876, at a concert in Moscow organised by Jan Hřímalý, and this was repeated at the second quartet concert of the Russian Musical Society in Moscow on 22 March/3 April 1876.
In Saint Petersburg the quartet was first heard on 19/31 October 1876, with Leopold Auer and Ivan Pikkel (violins), Ieronim Veykman (viola) and Karl Davydov (cello). The Kiev premiere took place on 23 March/4 April 1891 at the 1st RMS quartet concert, with Otokar Shevchuk and Shutman (violins), Yevgeny Ryb (viola), and Friedrich von Mullert (cello).
Other notable performances include:
- London, Royal Normal College & Academy of Music for the Blind, 14/26 July 1877.
- New York, Metropolitan Opera chamber concert, 8/20 May 1891.
In October 1876, Tchaikovsky worked at correcting the proofs of the quartet for the publisher Pyotr Jurgenson , and the full score appeared in print during November the same year. In 1955 it was included in volume 31 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works (1955), edited by Anatoly Aleksandrov.
- See: Discography
Notes and References
- See Letter 445, 10/22–11/23 February, and Letter 450, 3/15 March 1876, both to Modest Tchaikovsky, and also Modest's letter to the composer, 3/15 January 1877 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
- Letter 445 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 10/22–11/23 February 1876.
- Letter 446 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 10/22–11/23 February 1876.
- See Letter 450 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 3/15 March 1876.
- See Letter 504 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 14/26 October 1876, and Letter 508 to Karl Davydov, 18/30 October 1876.