After looking at the manuscript online in the Berlin Staatsbibliothek, Stephen noticed a ‘wrong note’ F had been changed to a B flat in blue pencil.
Initially, Stephen believed the correction to be in Tchaikovsky’s writing , describing the revelation as ‘one of the most exciting musical discoveries’ of his life. It’s since emerged that the manuscript was a copyist’s manuscript , prepared for Hans von Bülow as he performed the concerto throughout the world, and the correction may have been made by Bülow himself.
Before seeing the manuscript, Stephen cited a number of reasons for wanting to change the note in the score: the theme appears a number of times throughout the concerto, but only once with the F in the flute part. The rogue F also creates a clash between the G flat in the strings and changes the symmetry of the theme, which spans five notes up and five notes down in the four-bar phrase.