March Slav was composed in 1876 at the request of Nicolai Rubenstein (who had recently spurned Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto, and might have wanted to return to favour with the composer). Tchaikovsky loved Russian folk music—looking to it for inspiration throughout his career—and he makes considerable use of it here. From the opening theme to the final glorious statement of the Czarist national anthem, the march draws on the music of his motherland. It was first performed in a charity concert to support a war effort in the Balkans. He composed and fully scored the march in the short time of just five days. At the first performance its impact was such that it had to be encored in full, receiving a tumultuous reception – twice!