Cleaning up Tchaikovsky's 2nd Symphony

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Currently, so far as I can tell, we have only one version of Tchaikovsky’s 2nd Symphony:

However, there are at least two, according to two albums I have, Wikipedia, and IMSLP:

  1. The original version, completed in 1872, first performed in 1873. This version is infrequently played.
  2. A revised version, completed in 1880 and performed 1881. This is overwhelmingly the version played.

Other than two 1872-versions I’ve accidentally added to the Symphony. no 2 entry, I doubt there are more (but I will check as best I can).

I plan to:

  1. Add works entry for the original version, and all four movements.
  2. Edit the exiting works to say they’re the 1880 revision, and that’s the one you want. Maybe something like “1880 revision (version normally performed)”
  3. Fix the ones I entered, and any other 1872 revisions I can find.


Even “overwhelmingly”, does not mean “certainly”. I would also create a work for the 1872 version and link the recordings to the specific version when there is evidence that this is true, and leave current “generic” work as a catchall for the recordings where no evidence could be found.



I can’t prove it, but by “infrequently played” I mean “there are two recordings”. And only one of them of the complete work. knows of two; I can’t find any additional ones searching the web. [Of course, I realize there are plenty of recordings the Internet knows nothing of—maybe even a 3rd 1872 version—but then does MusicBrainz know of it?] Different versions of the Firebird are actually played and recorded.

The revised version’s 1st movement is ~10–12 minutes, the original ~16. So I can (and will) check the ones already entered.


I understand your point, but you must be careful: many MB users (me included) would rather have no data than false data. So if you are not reasonably certain which version of the symphony was recorded, for example if you see a recording not mentioned in the list, please link the recording to a catchall work. Later, users which have the relevant information will be able to move some of them to the correct version.

This reminds me: I think it would be useful to have a standard way to mark those catchall works. I should start a thread about this.

#5 isn’t a typical fan site but a serious collaboration of scholars who have catalogued all 5000 letters written by the composer, catalogued all known photographs of him and created bibliography of over 5700 books and articles. They don’t plan to include full discography but if rare or special version isn’t mentioned on this site I believe it doesn’t exist.

There’s no need to have catch-all work for unknown versions when work is so rarely performed and easily identifiable (durations). Only one full recording of it is known to exist. I would still mention about duration difference on annotations of both works for us to be ready for possible future releases.


I don’t doubt they know what they are writing about. But they at least do not mention Guerguiev’s version. How can you be sure which version he used if you don’t have the album? Guerguiev isn’t an obscure conductor who would pick the last version just because it is the most frequently performed.


And what about Kirill Karabits?


Like @derobert explained earlier, durations of 1st movement differ dramatically. According to Tchaikovsky-research 1st movement of revised version is 368 bars long when original version is having 486 bars. Revised versions are usually around 10-12 minutes when original is closer to 16 minutes (if you follow tempo markings by the composer). Recording of 1st movement by Karabits (2011) has a duration of 12:25 and recording by Gergiev (2011) is 11:58 long. Both also mention “Allegro vivo” section on their title instead of “Allegro comodo” which would be tempo marking for the original version. I’m familiar with both of these recordings and can confirm these to be standard versions.

Both of the releases having these recordings mention rarity of the original version on liner notes:

Gergiev (LSO Live LSO0710): “…he made a thorough revision of the symphony, in virtually re-composing the main body of the first movement, and it is this revised version that is almost always played today.”

Karabits (Onyx ONYX 4074): “Seven years later Tchaikovsky substantially revised this symphony, rewriting most of the opening movement and making minor amendments to the other three. The original version was actually preferred by Kashkin and by the composer Sergei Taneyev, but it is very rarely played today.”


Ah, of course, if you can reach the liner notes of the “dubious” releases, then you are not simply guessing anymore :slight_smile:


I’m repeating myself saying it’s not quessing when you know the durations. Composer has given clear tempo markings and there’s no reason why someone would decide not to follow them for a specially rare work. Full revised version would need to performed 30-60% faster to have similar durations with original version. For example first section starting with horn solo (Andante sostenuto=moderately slow) would need to be performed with a speed which would make it anything but moderately slow.

If first half would have regular speed (8 minutes) then second half would need to be performed in 2-4 minutes to fit it to 10-12 minutes. This means that this part would need to performed with 200-400% of the original speed. I believe it would impossible task for orchestras to perform already pretty fast “allegro comodo” with double speed. Last minute of the work is again “Andante sostenuto”.

This discussion has turned to be quite silly. I’m still waiting for some proofs about existense of more recordings of the original version. Worldcat which is including 2 billion items from the collection of 10,000 libraries worldwide doesn’t seem to have such a recording


Relax! I think you’ve got @davitof convinced, although seemingly with a different argument than you preferred…


Quite. Although ListMyCDs’ last post is quite convincing too :slight_smile:


I think I’ve got all this entered in to the database now.


Looks good to me! Thank you!