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Tchaik 5 Tempi

When determining tempo for a piece like Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, a conductor must consider:

- What the composer wants: from indications like "andante" and "allegro" to metronome makings if available.

- Input by publisher/editor: sometimes editors take the liberty to add tempo or metronome markings of their own, which sometimes are not necessarily what the composer intended. A good bit of research and "weeding out" of bad information might come into play.

- Tradition: Tchaik 5 was completed and premiered in 1888, conducted by Tchaikovsky himself. This makes the piece 128 years old. Many conductors have performed this piece since, and inevitably, certain interpretations of the piece start to become reference points for everybody else. This is especially true with the advent of recording technology. Now, the fact that "it's been done that way before" doesn't mean that it's "right." So, conductors must make informed decisions keeping all of this in mind. If only we had a recording of Tchaikovsky conducting the piece....

All that said, below are some tempi for your reference. These are not (and should not be) set in stone. Part of the magic of music is what happens spontaneously, and part of that is tempo fluctuation. Use the tempi below for your practicing, but when playing with the orchestra, always watch and listen. Never assume you're "right."

Mov 1

Andante: quarter = 66-68

Allegro con anima: dotted quarter = 84-88

Molto piu tranquillo: dotted quarter = 56-60

Mov 2

Beginning: dotted quarter = 50-52. After that, follow text tempo indications. Tempo fluctuates between ~50 and ~70.

Moderato con anima: quarter = 80-84

Tempo precedente: quarter = 106

Un poco piu animato (m. 134) = 82

Allegro non troppo (m. 158): quarter = 124

Tempo I: dotted quarter = 54

Mov 3

Main tempo: dotted half = 48 (or quarter = 144)

Trio (m. 72): quarter = 140

Mov 4

Andante maestoso: quarter = 76

Allegro vivace (alla breve): half note = 120

Poco piu animato (m. 296): half note = 132

Tempo I: back to 120

Poco meno mosso (m. 426): half note = 90

Molto vivace (m. 436): half note = 136

Moderato assai e molto maestoso: in 4!!! quarter = ~76

Presto: half note = 144

Happy practicing!!

A metronome from a long, long, long time ago.


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