String Quartet No. 2
(Струнный квартет № 2)
Op. 22 (1873–74).
Composed and scored in late December 1873 to January 1874 in Moscow.
Work on the quartet went easily and quickly, as Tchaikovsky later remembered . The sequence in which the movements were composed can be determined from the rough draft of the score: the first movement (without the introduction), the fourth movement, the third movement (first version), the second movement, followed by the introduction to the first movement, and a second version of the third movement.
According to the date on the manuscript, the rough draft was finished on 18/30 January 1874.
According to Nikolay Kashkin's memoirs, this "domestic" performance took place "in N. G. Rubinstein’s apartment... Besides the performers, who were F. G. Laub, J. Hřímalý and W. Fitzenhagen (I do not remember who played the viola, probably J. Gerber), I think that only K. K. Albrecht, N. A. Hubert, myself and A. G. Rubinstein were present" .
The first public performance took place on 10/22 March 1874 in Moscow, at the second quartet concert of the Russian Musical Society.
Tchaikovsky liked this work very much, and in a letter to Modest Tchaikovsky of 29 October/10 November 1874 he responded to a report on the successful first performance of the quartet in Saint Petersburg: "I consider it one of my best compositions; none has flowed out of me so easily and simply. I wrote it almost in one sitting and I was very surprised that the public did not take to it, for I find that compositions written so spontaneously normally find favour" . Later he told Anatoly Tchaikovsky: "If I’ve written anything in my life that flowed spontaneously from the very depths of my soul, then it was the first movement of this quartet" .
An arrangement of the quartet for piano duet was made by Anna Avramova. Tchaikovsky wrote favourably of this arrangement in a letter to Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov . It appeared in print in September 1875 (by the publisher Pyotr Jurgenson), and in October the same year the individual parts of the quartet were published. The full score of the Second Quartet was issued in March 1876.
Музыкальное наследие Чайковского (1958), pp. 370–372
This page was last updated on 12 February 2013