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Finale from Symphony in F minor No 4

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Peter I Tchaikovsky

Pytor Ilyich Tschaikowsky (arr. V.F. Safranek; ed. Van Ragsdale)

General Info

Year: 1878 / 1912 / 2004
Duration: c. 6:30
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Carl Fischer
Cost: Score and Parts - $130.00   |   Score Only - $25.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Fourth Symphony, by its magnificent power and brilliance, its flashes and humor, and its marvelous coloring, has won its way to a point in the favor of concert audiences which places it on an equal footing with its successors, and there are many who prefer it to the Fifth -- and the Sixth (Pathetique).

The first performance of this composition took place on February 22, 1878, at Moscow, under the direction of Nicholas Rubinstein. The work was, at its production, only a mild success. When it was played for the first time in Petrograd, December 7, 1878, it met with brilliant success, and this triumph brought great happiness to Tchaikovsky. The first performance of the symphony in America took place February 1, 1890, at a concert of the Symphony Society, conducted by Walter Damrosch, in the Metropolitan Opera House, New York.

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band

To say that Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a melancholy man would be a rather drastic understatement. Throughout his life, the brilliant composer was plagued by depression and self-doubt, particularly where his music was concerned. It has even been suggested that he took his own life (by deliberately drinking water during a cholera epidemic) after his sixth symphony received a lukewarm response from critics. He was famously ambivalent about works such as The Nutcracker, which would of course become one of the world’s most beloved pieces of classical music. The only one of his works that he seemed to genuinely love was Symphony No. 4, composed in 1877.

The work was written for his mysterious patroness, Nadezhda von Meck, who paid for all of the composer’s expenses during the period, but strangely insisted they never meet in person. She also wished the dedication to be anonymous, so Tchaikovsky simply dedicated it “to my best friend.” The symphony addresses the role of fate in one’s life, and ultimately how the search for individual happiness can be futile if fate has decreed otherwise. The fate motif appears at the opening of the first movement in the trumpets and horns and recurs at the end of the fourth, interrupting an otherwise joyous experience. The “Finale” is described by the composer as an attempt to seek out the happiness of others and to lose oneself in a carnival-like atmosphere. In the end, however, fate crashes the party, again in the throbbing triplet fanfare in trumpet and horn, and the protagonist is reminded of himself and his isolation.

- Program Note by Andrew Skaggs for the U.S. Navy Band

When John Philip Sousa found a piece that proved exceedingly popular with his audiences, he made it a part of the Sousa Band’s regular repertoire. Such was the case for the dramatic Finale to Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. Sousa included this exciting tour de force on fourteen different tour programs with the Sousa Band over more than two decades.

Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece was written during one of the most turbulent times in the composer’s personal life. In 1875 he wrote, “Fate, the mocker, has arranged that for the past ten years all whom I love most in the world are far from me.... Nearly all winter I was constantly unhappy, sometimes on the verge of despair. I longed for death.” The fourth symphony’s central idea of the inescapability of fate is a concept that would haunt the composer throughout his life until his untimely death in 1893. Although Tchaikovsky openly admitted that his symphony depicted a story, he declined to elaborate to anyone except his dearest friend and financial benefactor, Madame Nadezhda von Meck.

Tchaikovsky and von Meck never met in person, but they shared hundreds of intimate letters over the course of several decades. In a famous letter regarding Symphony No. 4, Tchaikovsky wrote to her:

Our symphony has a program. That is to say it is possible to express the content in words, and I will tell you -- and you alone -- the meaning of the entire work... [Regarding the first movement:] The introduction is the kernel, the quintessence, the chief thought of the whole Symphony. [The opening theme] is Fate, the fatal power which hinders one in the pursuit of happiness from gaining the goal, which jealously provides that peace and comfort do not prevail, that the sky is not free from clouds -- a might that swings, like the sword of Damocles, constantly over the head, that poisons continually the soul...

Tchaikovsky introduces “Fate” as an inevitable curse one must endure in the first. He seeks to provide relief from this curse in the following movements. Regarding the boisterous Finale of the symphony, Tchaikovsky concluded,

If you find no pleasure in yourself, look about you. Go to the people. See how they enjoy life and give themselves up entirely to festivity. The picture of a folk holiday.... And do you still say all the world is immersed in sorrow? There still is happiness, simple naive happiness. Rejoice in the happiness of others—and you can still live.

As Tchaikovsky proves, even “Fate” cannot suppress the overpowering joy in this Finale.

- Program Note from the United States Marine Band concert program, 18 August 2022


State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Florida: VI
  • South Carolina: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Darren Lin, conductor) - 18 August 2022
  • New Orleans (La.) Concert Band (Charles Taylor, conductor) – 15 December 2019
  • Golden Gate Park Band (San Francisco, Calif.) (Robert Calonico, conductor) – 5 August 2018
  • United States Military Academy Band (West Point, N.Y.) (Chris Lesley, conductor) – 23 June 2018
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Michelle A. Rakers, conductor) – 11 March 2018
  • Danville (Calif.) Community Band (Robert Calonico, conductor) – 10 June 2017
  • United States Navy Band (Washington, D.C.) (Brian O. Walden, conductor) – 17 December 2014 (2014 Midwest Clinic)
  • Catskill Valley Wind Ensemble (Oneonta, N.Y.) (Scott Rabeler, conductor) – 16 November 2014
  • Allegheny College Band Camp for Adult Musicians (Michelle Rakers, conductor) – 27 June 2014
  • The Fillmore Band (Matthew Caron, conductor) – 26 February 2012

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 583.
  • Tchaikovsky, P.; Safranek, V. (1912). Finale: Symphony in F minor no 4: Op 36 [score]. C. Fischer: New York.