Tchaikovsky felt profound sympathy to Alexander II even before he ascended to the throne, as we can see in the composer's letters. In November 1866, Tchaikovsky wrote the Festival Overture to the Danish National Anthem on the occasion of the newly-wed Grand Duke Alexander Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Fyodorovna (Princess Dagmar of Denmark). Unofficially, he dedicated his work to the future Emperor.
However, Tchaikovsky was rather sceptical of the new ruler in his first years of reign and even allowed himself to express harsh criticism: 'Oh, how good it would be if we had a tsar of a strong mind a spirit on the throne, the one with clearly defined intentions and a well-thought plan! But alas! We are under a kind, nice person, hardly gifted with a good mind, poorly educated, in a word, he cannot hold the debilitated mechanism of our state in his weak hands.' Interestingly, it was written after Alexander III expressed his benevolence to the composer and helped him with a grant of 3,000 rubles in a hard financial situation in the summer of 1881.
However, any even remotely negative paragraphs regarding Alexander III soon disappeared from all Tchaikovsky's documents. In March 1883, the composer was greatly honoured to write a cantata and an orchestra march for the coronation ceremony in Moscow. On the same occasion, a special edition of M. Glinka's chorus Slavsya! (Glory!) was written. Tchaikovsky took up the work reluctantly because the schedule was tight, he was busy writing the opera Mazeppa, and due to an unfavourable situation at home. Nevertheless, later he was very happy that he had been chosen to become the author of the music for such an important historic event. He was pleased to hear that the Moscow cantata and the Festival Coronation March were a success and that Alexander III enjoyed his music as a whole.