Tchaikovsky conducted this symphony at its premiere in St. Petersburg in October of 1893. He died nine days later, most likely from cholera. This piece has the subtitle “Pathétique” but that was a mistranslation from the Russian Патетическая, which means “passionate.” The piece’s second theme is one of the most famous music themes, being used as the melody for several pop tunes in the 1940s and 1950s. This arrangement transposes the original key and simplifies some of the rhythms and harmonies, but the piece still retains Tchaikovsky’s passionate vision.
The Special Notes section contains a facsimile of the original manuscript of the second theme.
Key: C major
Mood: emotional, passionate
Pedagogy: pedal, dynamics, rubato, D.C. al Coda