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La quatrième symphonie de Tchaïkovski

Par   •  5 Octobre 2018  •  1 602 Mots (7 Pages)  •  221 Vues

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The upper brass sound out the fate motif, now in B minor, over the rumble of timpani, bringing back the sense of foreboding and unease that was present in the first theme. In the development section, Tchaikovsky plays the opening two themes against each other, and from b. 217, we can hear snippets from the first section being taken up in the flutes as opposed to the violins, and then again in the bassoon from b. 224. Being the development, we are not usually introduced to new material, yet he does hint at a new theme on the violins in b. 236 which is somewhat more romantic and yearning. It is a sweet removal from what has come before it in the piece. However, as stated in Tchaikovsky’s’ programme notes, fate is not something we can escape[6] and at b. 253 the brass re-interject with the fate motif. The development is then in its final stretches and whirls towards a frantic conclusion in which the strings, brass and woodwind all clash rhythmically with one another, such as at b. 265. The dynamics swell and the music becomes incredibly urgent, such as at b. 278, as the strings play a repeating melody consisting of a semi-quaver rhythm, constantly being shadowed by the fate motif before the recapitulation starts at b. 284.

The recapitulation reintroduces the first theme, but in a way that we have not heard previous. The woodwinds play it, and the strings and brass accompany with frantic semiquaver movement and dotted crotchet movement respectively (b. 290). The dynamics are powerful and aggressive and the key is in D minor. This is relatively short-lived, and the second theme is quickly reintroduced at b. 295. The melody is taken by the bassoon and then some of the woodwind, and is accompanied primarily by strings. This gives us a few moments to breathe after the emotional volume and intensity of the development section. This second appearance of the second theme does not differ greatly from the first, and after undergoing a change in key to F major and a brief return to 3/4, slowly builds in volume towards the coda.

The coda is introduced by the return of the fate motif on brass accompanied by the timpani at b. 355. This is followed by a new theme in the woodwinds in Db major at b. 359 that becomes the basis of the coda. The strings adopt a gallop-like rhythm that is reminiscent of the introduction around the same point as this, as it looks to build towards a violent crescendo under this new theme. Finally, at b. 400 the strings explode into a final rendition of the opening theme in the home key of F minor, that is more drawn out than the first, giving it an air of anguish. This is accompanied by repeated chords in the brass beginning at b. 403 and the low rumblings of the timpani. The instruments finally culminate together one final time for a violent crescendo and cadence in the home key of F minor.

This is only the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s first symphony and one of four, each brilliant in its own unique way. It is a symphony wrought with emotion and drama, and is truly one of the great pieces of writing by one of the great masters of symphonic music.


- Brown, D.B, 1986. Tchaikovsky: The Years of Wandering. 1st ed. London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.

- Classic FM. 2005. Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 in F minor. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2017].

- Garden, E.G, 1993. The Dent Master Musicians: Tchaikovsky. 1st ed. London: Orion Publishing Group.

- Poznansky, A.P, 1991. Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man. 1st ed. New York: Schirmer Books.

- Strutte, W.S, 1979. Tchaikovsky: His Life & Times. 1st ed. Kent: Midas Books.

- Westrup, J.W, 1940. Tchaikovsky and the Symphony. The Musical Times, 81, 249-252



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