Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, op. 44 (original version)
Pyotr Iyich Tchaikovsky / Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский – Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, op. 44
7 May 1840 [O. S. 25 April*] (Kamsko-Votkinsk, Vyatka Oblast, Russia) – 6 November 1893 [O.S. 25 October*] (Saint Petersburg, Russia)
I Allegro brilliante [e molto vivace – in first edition only]
668 bars in original; 515 bars in 1897 Siloti edition
II Andante non troppo
332 bars in original; 141 bars in 1897 Siloti edition
III Allegro con fuoco
560 bars in original; 560 bars in 1897 Siloti edition
The orchestration calls for
two flutes, two oboes, clarinets in B-flat and A, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets in D,
timpani, strings, and solo piano.
Tchaikovsky began work on his Piano Concerto No. 2 on 22 October 1879 at his sister’s country house at Kamenka, near Kiev. He finished sketching the first movement on 1 November, and then visited his Moscow publisher and continued on to Paris, where he completed the Finale, and then the Andante. On 15 December, he reported to Mme. Von Meck that the score was “ready in the rough.” He continued on to Rome, making a two-piano version, and then set the work aside for three months. The orchestration was done in Rome beginning in late February 1880, and he signed the completed autograph score on 10 May back in Kamenka.
This complete original (unrevised) version was published in 1949 by the Bruckner-Verlag, Wiesbaden. Its editor was Fritz Oeser (1912-1982), who had made a name for himself by restoring all original material to his edition of Bizet’s Carmen, including all cuts made by the composer himself.
Tchaikovsky dedicated this concerto to Nikolai Rubinstein (1835-1881), who had harshly criticized (but then advocated for) his first piano concerto five years earlier. Tchaikovsky praised Rubinstein’s “magnificent playing of my First Concerto and of my [G-major] Sonata which left me in utter rapture after he performed it for me in Moscow.”
This time, Rubinstein responded to Tchaikovsky (through their mutual student Sergei Taneyev), “There’s absolutely nothing to change.” Later, Tchaikovsky would write to his patron Nadezhda von Meck, “[Rubinstein now] tells me in his opinion the piano part appears to be too episodic, and does not stand out sufficiently from the orchestra. […] If he is right this will be very galling because I took pains precisely on this, to make the solo instrument stand out in as much relief as possible against the orchestral background.”
American conductor Theodore Thomas conducted the work’s premiere by the Philharmonic Society of New York on 12 November 1881 at the Academy of Music. Nikolai Rubinstein had requested to be the soloist in order to make up for his earlier criticisms, but he died suddenly on 23 March 1881. Tchaikovsky was devastated, and left immediately for the funeral in Paris…
by Laura Stanfield Prichard ©2017 Harvard University, San Francisco Symphony
Read full preface > HERE
Keyboard & Orchestra
210 x 297 mm