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Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique) – Viola Part

Edited by Joseph de Pasquale

Title: Symphony No. 6
Composer: Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky
Instrument: Viola
Edited By: Joseph de Pasquale
Instrumentation: Orchestral
Pages: 23

The viola part for Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, (nicknamed the Pathétique) has been edited by Joseph de Pasquale, a legendary violist who studied and collaborated with some of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, as well as held the position of principal viola in the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1964 until his retirement in 1996. Mr. de Pasquale's bowings, fingerings and other editorial markings have been added throughout the score.

The Pathétique, Symphony No. 6, is Tchaikovsky's final completed symphony, written in 1893 and performed that same year only nine days before his death. It was the last of Tchaikovsky's compositions premiered in his lifetime. The nickname of "Pathétique" is derived from its Russian title – loosely translated meaning "passionate" or "emotional" but also with a bit of suffering at the same time. Tchaikovsky dedicated the Pathétique Symphony to his nephew, whom he greatly admired. There are many theories on a hidden program to the symphony, even one that views the composition as Tchaikovsky's suicide note.

Like some of his previous symphonies, many see Symphony No. 6 as dealing with the concept of "Fate" and its role in life and death. As usual it contains four movements. The finale of this symphony is of particular note. After a vivacious scherzo third movement that ends with triumphant march, the fourth movement is a slow and darker-toned movement which also echoes the opening melody. Although there is a turbulent and powerful section with the full orchestra, it drops off and gives way to a B minor coda with long and low notes. Tchaikovsky's Pathétique is the only one to end in a minor key, fading away into almost complete despair. The ending could be seen as the composer's final sigh and resignation to fate.

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