In Saint Petersburg in December 1885, celebrations were being prepared for the fiftieth jubilee of the School of Jurisprudence. As early as the spring of that year, the school’s director had begun discussions with Tchaikovsky about commissioning from him some musical numbers for the gala jubilee evening. Only two letters survive from the director of students, Ivan Alopeus, to Tchaikovsky, although there were undoubtedly more. In a letter of 26 June/8 July 1885, Alopeus, in reply to a letter from Tchaikovsky that has not survived, wrote: "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" . 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 . Tchaikovsky, who was then staying at Kamenka, agreed, notwithstanding his dislike for this sort 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" .
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" . The march was finished on 5/17 November 1885 . That same day the composer sent the full score to Saint Petersburg . Tchaikovsky wrote to Vladimir Stasov about the march on 27 November/9 December 1885: "I very much do not want to be present at the festivities, if only because the march that I was commissioned to write shall be performed, and to hear it would be excruciating for me" .
The Jurists' March was performed for the first time, as intended, on 5/17 December in the Hall of the Nobles' Society in Saint Petersburg, at the occasion of the jurists’ jubilee dinner. The full score and parts were published by Pyotr Jurgenson in October 1894.
Музыкальное наследие Чайковского (1958), pp. 300–301
This page was last updated on 14 February 2013