Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

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TCHAIKOVSKY, Peter (1840-1893) — Tchaikovsky's position among Russian choral composers was nothing short of seminal. Widely successful in the realm of secular music, Tchaikovsky influenced Russian Orthodox church music of his time in ways that cannot be underestimated. When he composed his Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in 1878, the Imperial Chapel's censorship of church music was severely hampering the willingness of the rising school of Russian nationalist composers to write for the church. Tchaikovsky's Liturgy was promptly banned by the Director of the Imperial Chapel, Nikolai Bakhmetev, an action that in turn led Tchaikovsky's publisher, Jurgenson, to sue. The Russian Senate's ruling in favor of Tchaikovsky and Jurgenson broke the grip of censorship and opened the possibility for successive generations of Russian composers to compose sacred choral works without subjecting them to bureaucratic review. Although stylistically Tchaikovsky's music for the Liturgy was not in any way radical or innovative, the very fact that he composed new, freely invented music for most of the liturgical components shaped the approach taken by nearly every composer who subsequently undertook to write musical settings of this service, most notably, Gretchaninoff, Ippolitov-Ivanov, Chesnokov, and Rachmaninoff.

A few years after the Liturgy, in 1882, Tchaikovsky again broke new ground with his All-Night Vigil, op. 52, becoming the first major Russian composer to draw upon the traditional unison chants of the Russian Orthodox Church as the basis for composing an entire liturgical cycle. Again, Tchaikovsky's polyphonic treatment of the pre-existing chant material was in no way extraordinary, but his recognition of this long-neglected wellspring of national Russian melos made a mark. It is hardly coincidental that more than 30 years later, Sergei Rachmaninoff used many of the very same chant melodies in his monumental All-Night Vigil. op. 37. 

After his two major liturgical cycles, Tchaikovsky, encouraged by Emperor Alexander III himself to write more sacred music, produced ten more liturgical choruses in which he pioneered some additional compositional and stylistic traits that would come to characterize the "new Russian choral school" of the early twentieth century: rich, and colorful choral textures with divisi, the invention of quasi-chant melodies, and the use of chant-like motives in melodic part-writing.

By virtue of his stature as a Russian musician, Tchaikovsky was contributed to the course of Russian church music in other ways. In the years between his Liturgy and Vigil, he edited the complete sacred choral works of Dmitry Bortniansky (1751-1825) for Jurgenson's Publishing House. He compiled A Concise Textbook of Harmony Intended to Facilitate the Reading of Sacred Musical Works in Russia (1875). And, perhaps most significantly, as a member of the Supervisory Council of the Moscow Synodal School of Church Singing, he secured the appointments of his students, the choral conductor Vasily Orlov (1858-1907) and the composer Alexander Kastalsky (1856-1926), to faculty positions at that institution. Together with the musicologist Stepan Smolensky (1848-1909), Orlov and Kastalsky, following Tchaikovsky's precepts, would shape the Moscow Synodal School and its Choir into a crucible for the creation and nurturing of one of the largest and substantive bodies of sacred choral music in modern times. 

Tchaikovsky's contributions to secular choral repertoire cannot be overlooked, either. In addition to the extensive and vivid use of choruses in his numerous operas, he composed several occasional cantatas (the most prominent of which is Moscow, written in 1883 for the coronation of Alexander III), and several part songs for mixed, women's, and men's choir.

A084_search Peter Tchaikovsky Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, opus 41

Peter Tchaikovsky

Russian Chamber Chorus of New York

Nikolai Kachanov

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A041b-web_search Peter Tchaikovsky Tchaikovsky: Vespers op. 52 and selected choral works

Peter Tchaikovsky

St. Petersburg State Capella Choir

Vladislav Chernushenko

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A065_search Peter Tchaikovsky Vespers [All-Night Vigil], op. 52, and Three Sacred Choruses

Peter Tchaikovsky

Russian Chamber Chorus of New York

Nikolai Kachanov

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Ta-anv_search Peter Tchaikovsky All-Night Vigil ('Vespers')
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Ta-dl_search Peter Tchaikovsky Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
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M-pt_search Peter Tchaikovsky The Complete Sacred Choral Works
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Ta040_search Peter Tchaikovsky Blessed Are They, Whom Thou Hast Chosen
Blazheni, yazhe izbral

Peter Tchaikovsky

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Ta024_search Peter Tchaikovsky Blessed Art Thou, O Lord
Blagosloven yesi Ghospodi

Peter Tchaikovsky

Little Znamenny Chant

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Ta018mc_search Peter Tchaikovsky Blessed is the Man
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Peter Tchaikovsky

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Peter Tchaikovsky

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Ta016_search Peter Tchaikovsky Bless the Lord, O my soul
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Hnp017_search Peter Tchaikovsky Bless the Lord, O My Soul

Peter Tchaikovsky

Russian “Greek” Chant

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Ta006_search Peter Tchaikovsky Cherubic Hymn
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Ta034_search Peter Tchaikovsky Cherubic Hymn No. 1
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Ta035_search Peter Tchaikovsky Cherubic Hymn No. 2
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Blessed are they, whom Thou hast chosen

Peter Tchaikovsky

Vespers [All-Night Vigil], op. 52, and Three Sacred Choruses

Russian Chamber Chorus of New York

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Blessing and Great Litany

Peter Tchaikovsky

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, opus 41

Russian Chamber Chorus of New York

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Bless the Lord, O My Soul

Peter Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky: Vespers op. 52 and selected choral works

St. Petersburg State Capella

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Little Litany and Only Begotten Son

Peter Tchaikovsky

Unto Ages of Ages

Gloriae Dei Cantores

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Blessed Is the Man

Peter Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky: Vespers op. 52 and selected choral works

St. Petersburg State Capella

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Cherubic Hymn

Peter Tchaikovsky

Unto Ages of Ages

Gloriae Dei Cantores

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Let my prayer arise

Peter Tchaikovsky

Vespers [All-Night Vigil], op. 52, and Three Sacred Choruses

Russian Chamber Chorus of New York

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The First Antiphon

Peter Tchaikovsky

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, opus 41

Russian Chamber Chorus of New York

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Lord, I Call

Peter Tchaikovsky

With the Voice of the Archangel

Credo Chamber Choir

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Lord, I Call unto Thee

Peter Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky: Vespers op. 52 and selected choral works

St. Petersburg State Capella

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Vsenoshchnoe bdenie. Opyt garmonizatsii bogosluzhebnykh pesnopenii.

All-Night Vigil ('Vespers')

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Selected hymns from the All-Night Vigil[Various chants]

Jurgenson 1882

160

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Liturgiia Sv. Ioanna Zlatoustago

Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

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Unchanging hymns from the Divine Liturgy

SATB(divisi)

Jurgenson 1878

60

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15
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1

Gospodi, pomilui

Lord, have mercy

Op.41, No. 1

SdivAdivTdivBdiv

Ta001

2

Slava Ottsu i Synu [i Edinorodnyi Syne]

Glory to the Father [and Only-begotten Son]

Op.41, No. 2

SATB

Ta002

3

Priidite poklonimsia [i Sviatyi Bozhe]

Come, let us worship [and Holy God]

Op.41, No. 3

SdivATdivBdiv

Ta003

4

Posle chteniia Apostola

After the Epistle reading

Op.41, No. 4

SdivATdivBdiv

Ta004

5

Posle chteniia Evangeliia

After the Gospel reading

Op.41, No. 5

SATB

Ta005

6

Kheruvimskaia pesn'

Cherubic Hymn

Op.41, No. 6

SdivAdivTdivBdiv

Ta006

7

Posle Kheruvimskoi pesni

After the Cherubic Hymn

Op.41, No. 7

SATB

Ta007

8

Simvol very

The Creed

Op.41, No. 8

SdivAdivTBdiv

Ta008

9

Milost' mira

A mercy of peace

Op.41, No. 9

SATB

Ta009

10

Tebe poem

We hymn Thee

Op.41, No. 10

SATB

Ta010

11

Dostoino est'

It is truly meet

Op.41, No. 11

SATB

Ta011

12

Amin'. I so dukhom tvoim. Gospodi, pomilui.

Amen. And with your spirit. Lord, have mercy

Op.41, No. 12

SATB

Ta012

13

Molitva Gospodnia

The Lord's Prayer

Op.41, No. 13

SATB

Ta013

14

Prichastnyi stikh

Communion Hymn [for Sundays]

Op.41, No. 14

Ps. 148:1

SATB

Ta014

15

Blagosloven griadyi, [Videkhom... Da ispolniatsia]

Blessed is he, [We have seen... Let our mouths be filled]

Op.41, No. 14

SATB

Ta015

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Angel vopiiashe

The Angel cried out

N.O.N.

DL

SdivAdivTdivBdiv

5

Ta043

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