Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 2 “Little Russian”
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 17 was composed in 1872. One of Tchaikovsky’s joyful compositions, it was successful right from its premiere and also won the favor of the group of nationalistic Russian composers known as “The Five”, led by Mily Balakirev. Because Tchaikovsky used three Ukrainian folk songs to great effect in this work, it was nicknamed the “Little Russian” (Russian: Малороссийская, Malorossiyskaya) by Nikolay Kashkin, a friend of the composer as well as a well-known musical critic of Moscow. Ukraine was at that time frequently called “Little Russia”.
Despite its initial success, Tchaikovsky was not satisfied with the symphony. He revised the work extensively in 1879–80, substantially rewriting the opening movement and shortening the finale. This revision is the version of the symphony usually performed today, although there have also been supporters of the original version. Among those advocates was the composer’s friend and former student, Sergei Taneyev, who was himself a noted composer and pedagogue.
1. Andante Sostenuto – Allegro vivo
2. Andante Marziale, quasi moderato
3. Scherzo – Allegro molto vivace
4. Finale – Moderato assai