String Quartet No. 1 (Tchaikovsky)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1 in D major Op. 11 was the first of his three completed string quartets that were published during his lifetime. An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement was completed.
Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello. Tchaikovsky arranged the second movement for cello and string orchestra in 1888.
The quartet has four movements:
The melancholic second movement, which has become famous in its own right, was based on a folk song, likely the Song of the Volga Boatmen, the composer heard at his sister's house at Kamenka whistled by a house painter. When the quartet was performed at a tribute concert for Leo Tolstoy, the author was said to have been brought to tears by this movement: “…Tolstoy, sitting next to me and listening to the Andante of my First Quartet, burst into tears". When the Zoellner Quartet, at her request, performed the second movement for Helen Keller, who rested her fingertips on a resonant tabletop to sense the vibrations, she, too, reacted strongly. The melody from second theme of the Andante cantabile, in D♭ major, was also used as the basis for the popular song "On the Isle of May", popularized by Connee Boswell in 1940. This movement ends with plagal cadence.
- Langston, Brett (ed.). "Tchaikovsky Research: String Quartet in B-flat major". Tchaikovsky Research. Retrieved June 2015. Check date values in:
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- John Warrack, Tchaikovsky, p. 275
- Catherine Steinegger's Notes to Recording of Keller Quartet (Erato, 2292-45965-2) states: ‘Based on a folksong which the composer had heard at Kamenka, while he was staying with his sister’
- André Lischke's Notes to Recording of Quatuor du Moscou (CDM, RUS 288 101) states: ‘…Russian folk tune that Tchaikovsky had noted down in 1869, well before the composition of the Quartet’
- Kashkine's Recollections of Tchaikovsky The Musical Times Vol. 38, No. 653 (Jul. 1, 1897), pp. 449-452 "... the Russian song, forming the first theme, was written down from the voice of a plasterer who had awakened him with his singing on several consecutive mornings..."
- Alexandra Orlova: Tchaikovsky, a self-portrait quotes this as originating from “Diaries, 211” OUP, 1990, ISBN 0-19-315319-X
- Galina von Meck (with notes by Percy M Young) An Autobiography of Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Letters to his Family also mentions this in the footnote to Letter 131 (Alexandra Davydova, 8/11/1876, Moscow) Stein & Day 1973/1981/1982 ISBN 0-8128-6167-1
- Scrapbook clipping attributed to Musician, Volume 22, April 1917, page 303, accessed June 4, 2012.
- String Quartet No.1 in D major, Op. 11: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- Performance of String Quartet No. 1 by the Borromeo String Quartet from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in MP3 format
- Tchaikovsky Research
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