Tchaikovsky Overture in F Major

THURSDAY, April 30, 2020

Tchaikovsky Overture in F minor

This is yet another composition from Tchaikovsky’s student days, written at age 25. He wrote and scored it for a small student orchestra in 1865 and revised it at the beginning of 1866.


Original version:  2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (in B-flat), 2 bassoons, horn (in F), trumpet (in F) + 2 timpani + violins I, violins II, violas, cellos and double basses.

Revised version: the same as the original but with 4 horns (in F),  2 trumpets (in F), and 3 trombones.


1st version: Andante – Allegro molto (F major, 377 bars), approximate duration 7 minutes.

2nd version: Moderato assai – Allegro con spirito (F major, 687 bars), approximate duration 11-12 minutes.


It seems to have been written as a student assignment and could possibly have been written at Kamenka the previous summer, at around the same time as the Overture in C minor.

The revised version of this overture was apparently commissioned by Nikolai Rubinstein for a concert of the Russian Musical Society in Moscow. This seems to be referred to in a letter of February 1866 from Tchaikovsky to his brother Modest:

“Rubinstein has tasked me with some very important work, which I want to finish by the third week of Lent.”

For once apparently Nicolai was supportive of Tchaikovsky.


Tchaikovsky greatly extended its introduction and development section, rewrote the transitions in the exposition and recapitulation, and substituted a completely new coda.


The overture in its original version was performed for the first time on 27 November/9 December 1865 at the 18th conservatory student orchestra concert in the hall of the Mikhailovsky Palace in Saint Petersburg, conducted by the composer. This was Tchaikovsky’s first public appearance as a conductor.

The second version of the overture was first performed on 4/16 March 1866, conducted by Nikolai Rubinstein, at an special concert of the Russian Musical Society in Moscow. In Saint Petersburg, this version was performed for the first time on 1/13 May 1866, conducted by Anton Rubinstein, at a charity concert in the hall of the Mikhaylovsky Palace.

In this instance Tchaikovsky actually got support from both the Rubinstein brothers.


Both versions were published for the first time in volume 21 of Tchaikovsky’s Complete Collected Works, edited by Pavel Lamm in 1952, and once again I do not understand the delay. It is unlikely that anyone heard this overture until the latter part of the 20th century.

The original version, shorter…

The revision, longer and using more brass…





3 thoughts on “Tchaikovsky Overture in F Major

  1. I tried to hear where they are the same and different and noticed, for example, that 1:31 in the revised version corresponds to 0:37 in the shorter one – as if new material was sandwiched in between. I found the revised one more interesting to listen to.

  2. For a student assignment, this sounds great! The changes in speed give the piece a bit more flavor. The brass in the revision give a bit more texture to the piece. I think the revision in general is a bit more (in a lot of ways) than the original.

  3. I wonder if his teacher liked this one because it was more “conservative”. But I find it still full of what I associate with Tchaikovsky — Agressive brass, lots of contrast.

    (I found this one a bit more “conventional” or “conservative” than his usual fare.)


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