In 1883 Tchaikovsky received an official order to write a cantata, to be called Moscow, for the coronation of Alexander III, and the municipality of Moscow asked him to compose a march for the celebration to be staged in Sokolniki Park in honor of the Czar. The March, with its de rigueur quotation from the Russian national anthem, was duly performed on June 4 of that year and seems not to have been heard again until 1891, when the composer conducted it at a concert in New York.
A newspaper critic reporting appreciatively on that performance wrote: “His Coronation March is simple, strong, and sober, but not surprisingly original. The leading theme recalls the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus [from Handel’s Messiah] and the treatment of the first part is Handelian. The strings for some time have things to themselves. Then the orchestration grows more rich and varied, the cymbals, the brass, and the woodwinds join in. And at last we return to the original theme, working gradually up to a grand climax, in which all the instruments take part. It is a broad, a scholarly, and worthy effort.”
— Orrin Howard