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Editor’s Note: Tchaikovsky composed what became known as his “Elegy” in 1884 on a commission from the Moscow Society of Artists, who were honoring Ivan Samarin on the occasion of his fifty years of acting. Tchaikovsky titled the piece for string orchestra, which was meant to open the ceremonies, “A Grateful Greeting,” though its spirit is, incongruously, quite sombre. After Samarin’s death, the work was published as an “Elegy in Memory of Ivan Samarin.” Tchaikovsky reused the work as the entr’acte to Act IV of his incidental music for Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet.

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