'''Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 17''' was composed in 1872. One of Tchaikovsky's joyful compositions, it was successful right from its premiere and also won the favor of the group of nationalistic Russian composers known as "The Five", led by Mily Balakirev. Because Tchaikovsky used three Ukrainian folk songs to great effect in this work, it was nicknamed the "Little Russian" (, ''Malorossiyskaya'') by Nikolay Kashkin, a friend of the composer as well as a well-known musical critic of Moscow.Holden, Anthony, ''Tchaikovsky: A Biography'' (New York: Random House, 1995), 87. Ukraine was at that time frequently called "Little Russia".
Despite its initial success, Tchaikovsky was not satisfied with the symphony. He revised the work extensively in 1879-80, substantially rewriting the opening movement and shortening the finale.Brown, ''Tchaikovsky: The Early Years'', 259-260 This revision is the version of the symphony usually performed today, although there have also been supporters of the original version. Among those advocates was the composer's friend and former student, Sergei Taneyev, who was himself a noted composer and pedagogue.Brown, ''Tchaikovsky: The Early Years'', 260.