The piece was performed for the first time on March 16, 1870. Nevertheless, everything did not go as Tchaikovsky had planned. Tchaikovsky's friend, Nikolai Rubinstein, was the conductor of the piece. When Rubinstein presented himself on the concert platform, a noisy, rowdy demonstration from the audience took place. This occurred due to the fact that, the previous day, the court had found against Rubinstein in a case involving him and female student. Due to this incidence, expressing their opinions of the court case was higher on the crowd's interest rather than conveying their thoughts or appreciation of the musical piece. When speaking about the premiere, Tchaikovsky said, "After the concert we dinedâ€¦No one said a single word to me about the overture the whole evening. And yet I yearned so for appreciation and kindness." (Kamien 254) Tchaikovsky may have thought that the night was to be a success earlier that day, but there were many more years to pass before such a day could come.
Tchaikovsky's first failure on Romeo and Juliet caused him to make necessary adjustments to perfect the musical arrangement. These adjustments involved completely accepting Balakirev's critiques. By taking his suggestions into consideration, Tchaikovsky also had to push beyond the boundaries of his structured musical training and utilize concepts like those used in music writing today. This revision included a crucial change that added to the unique qualities of the song. Tchaikovsky chose to leave the love theme out of the development section of the song. Instead, he saved the love theme to conflict with the first theme in the second half of the recapitulation. By doing this, the love theme is protected from the violence of the first theme in the exposition and, additionally, destroyed by the same first theme in the recapitulation. Tchaikovsky's change, instead of following the expected form of a sonata, caused the climax of the catastrophe to occur in the recapitulation instead of the change occurring in the expected development section.