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Tchaikovsky wrote the opera Vakula the Smith in 1874. It was revised as Cherevichki (The Slippers) in 1885.

"Vakula the Smith" is given Opus 14, and as far as I can tell "Cherevichki" has the same Opus number. Is this correct and is it normal to reuse the same number for extensive revisions like this?

  • As Robert Fink said in the comments below, the author can decide if it worth republishing as a new opus number or not :-) – Bebs Jul 3 '17 at 7:48
  • @Bebs, agreed it looks like it was Tchaikovsky himself who made this decision, who am I to argue with him?! – Rob Sedgwick Jul 4 '17 at 8:22
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According to Wikipedia:

Opus number is the "work number" that is assigned to a composition, or to a set of compositions, to indicate the chronological order of the composer's production.

Also, indeed, Vakula the Smith is Op.14 but note that

Tchaikovsky did not permit it to be performed at other theatres. Dissatisfied with the opera, Tchaikovsky revised it in 1885 as Cherevichki.

It looks like Tchaikovsky erased and replaced Vakula the Smith with Cherevichki after doing some modifications, so Cherevichki doesn't counted as a new composition and does not have its own opus number.


Also note that opus number assignment isn't always consistent. Sometimes it doesn't follow the chronological order. Sometimes it is assigned by the composer, sometimes by the publisher... It also happened that opus number of a revised work were distinguished with a letter.

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    That's correct. But it's my understanding that both works exist. Given that it's such a major revision (to the extent of having a new title) then I wondered whether it justifies having a new Opus number. Incidentally, Tchaikovsky seemed to frequently "borrow" music from earlier works and put them in later ones. – Rob Sedgwick Jan 31 '17 at 14:30
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    Dude, you have to go with the opus numbers the composer used. If works have catalogue numbers, as with Mozart and Bach, then you can make an editorial decision. But even Brahms decided that the 1889 changes to his 1854 Piano Trio, Op. 8, which were huge, only justified republishing it as Op. 8 (New Edition). – Robert Fink Jul 2 '17 at 1:16
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    @RobertFink why do you say this to me? I agree with you 100% :-) – Bebs Jul 2 '17 at 6:06
  • @RobertFink thanks, I had no idea composers assigned opus numbers themselves, I had assumed they were done retrospectively. Here's an article which explains it all: classiccat.net/dictionary/opus_numbers.php – Rob Sedgwick Jul 4 '17 at 8:20
  • @RobSedgwick, I added some elements to my answer ;-) – Bebs Aug 30 '17 at 10:53

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