Elegy for String Orchestra
(Элегия для струнного оркестра)
A Grateful Greeting (Привет благодарности) (1884).
On 12/24 October, Nikolay Kashkin sent Tchaikovsky a letter telling him that the jubilee organisers wanted to ask Tchaikovsky to take part: "You have probably received or will shortly receive a letter from Ostrovsky with a request to participate in I. V. Samarin’s jubilee", he wrote. "The jubilee will include something specially written by [Nikolay] Vild’e, his former colleague Ostrovsky, and a number of tableaux enacted by Makovsky, Pryanishnikov, and others—a balletic divertissement, and the final act from Ostrovsky's The Forest. The organizers of the jubilee want you to write some sort of musical entr’acte" .
In his letter of reply to Aleksandr Ostrovsky on 18/30 October 1884, Tchaikovsky wrote that he was deeply moved to learn of the celebrations to honour Ivan Samarin and "could not feel more strongly about taking part in them, and I hereby accept your commission". However, at this time he was wholly preoccupied with the production of the opera Yevgeny Onegin in Saint Petersburg . Nevertheless, he promised to do something as soon as he returned to Moscow, and provided the jubilee was no earlier than 20 November/2 December, he hoped to manage to complete the entr'acte on time.
On 1/13 November, Tchaikovsky left Saint Petersburg for Davos, where his friend Iosif Kotek was gravely ill . On the way he stopped off in Berlin for four days. Here, on 6/18 November, the Elegy was completed (according to the date on the manuscript). On 7/19 November 1884, he wrote from Munich to Modest Tchaikovsky: "I stayed so long in Berlin, because I needed to be able to compose quickly ...an entr'acte for the Samarin production. The latter has been done and dispatched" . Initially, according to the title page of the manuscript, the piece was entitled A Grateful Greeting [«Привет благодарности»].
On 7/19 November, Tchaikovsky wrote to Pyotr Jurgenson: "From Berlin I sent Kashkin the entr'acte for Samarin's benefit. For God's sake, don't print this rubbish: I won't give my consent for this" .
It was printed by Pyotr Jurgenson in December 1890, some years after Ivan Samarin's death. Tchaikovsky wrote about the edition to Jurgenson on 15/27 November 1890: "The Samarin piece needs a new title. Should it not be called Elegy? This would seem more appropriate, and above it the dedication in memory of I. V. Samarin" .
Thus it appeared for the first time under the title Elegy.
On 13/25 May 1891 the same publisher issued an arrangement of the Elegy for piano solo, made by Theodor Kirchner, and an arrangement for piano duet made by Eduard Langer.
In 1891 the Elegy was used by Tchaikovsky as an entr'acte to Act IV of his music for the tragedy Hamlet.
Музыкальное наследие Чайковского (1958), pp. 299–300
This page was last updated on 14 February 2013