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Symphony No. 2, in C Minor. Op. 17

Pytor Il'yich Tchaikovsky

1. Allegro vivo.
2. Andante marciale.
3. Scherzo.
4. Moderato assai.

Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony, sometimes called the "Little Russian Symphony," was written in 1872, and was first performed in Moscow. It is considered the most national of all this composer’s works, as it is based largely upon Russian themes. After a long introduction, founded upon a melody, elegiac in style, the main part of the movement begins with a theme given out by the violins, accompanied by the remaining strings, which, after development in full orchestra, leads to a second theme in oboe, accompanied by clarinets and bassoons, then passing to the violas and cellos with a counter theme in violins. After a short free fantasie the recapitulation begins, closing with the Coda and bits of the beautiful melody of the introduction.

The second movement opens in the kettle drums which furnish an accompaniment to the first theme, borrowed from a march in the composer’s unpublished opera, "Undine," and stated in the clarinets and bassoons. The first violins furnish the second theme, repeated by bassoons and cellos. The two themes are beautifully elaborated, and the movement closes with the kettle drum beats which began it.

The first violins have the opening theme of the Scherzo, followed by a chromatic passage in second violins and violas, which leads to the second theme in the first violins. After its embellishment and the return of the first theme the Trio follows, based on a theme in woodwinds and horns, most elaborately worked up. The movement ends with a repetition of the Scherzo and Coda.

The Finale is exceedingly brilliant. Its first theme, a little Russian song called "The Crane," is given out in the first violins, followed by a second original theme, also in violins. These two themes, the first being mainly dominant, are beautifully worked up to a powerful climax, the symphony closing with a Coda full of vitality and brilliancy.

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See also:
Middle Ages Music
Renaissance Music
Baroque Era Music
Classical Era Music
Romantic Era Music
Nationalist Era Music
Turn of Century Music

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