Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48 - Tchaikovsky [HD]

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
A Far Cry
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

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Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48, was composed in 1880. It remains one of the late Romantic era's definitive compositions.


Serenade for Strings has 4 movements:

1. Pezzo in forma di sonatina: Andante non troppo — Allegro moderato
2. Valse: Moderato — Tempo di valse
3. Élégie: Larghetto elegiaco
4. Finale (Tema russo): Andante — Allegro con spirito

Tchaikovsky intended the first movement to be an imitation of Mozart's style, and it was based on the form of the classical sonatina, with a slow introduction. The stirring 36-bar Andante introduction is marked "sempre marcatissimo" and littered with double-stopping in the violins and violas, forming towering chordal structures. This introduction is restated at the end of the movement, and then reappears, transformed, in the coda of the fourth movement, tying the entire work together.

On the second page of the score, Tchaikovsky wrote, "The larger number of players in the string orchestra, the more this shall be in accordance with the author's wishes."

The second movement, Valse, has become a popular piece in its own right.

References in other contexts

The score was used as the foundation of the George Balanchine ballet Serenade in 1934.

The waltz in the second movement was arranged for soprano and full orchestra for the 1945 MGM film Anchors Aweigh and performed by Kathryn Grayson with José Iturbi conducting the MGM studio orchestra.

The piece incidentally accompanied the final countdown for the Trinity atomic bomb test July 16, 1945, when it was being broadcast by a Voice of America station on the same frequency being used to transmit test communications

The waltz section was also used as the startup theme for British television station Channel Television in the 1980s.

Excerpts from the score were used in the 2005 ballet Anna Karenina, choreographed by Boris Eifman.
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Licensed by: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Music license: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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