Children's Songs on Russian and Ukrainian Tunes (Mamontova)

Tchaikovsky Research

The Children's Songs on Russian and Ukrainian Melodies (Детские песнии на русские и малороссийские напевы) were compiled by Mariya Mamontova in the 1870s. In 1872 and 1877, Tchaikovsky agreed to her request to help and harmonise two sets of the collection (TH 182 ; ČW 402) [1].


Scored for solo voice with solo piano accompaniment. However, 'We Worked the Land' (Set 1, No. 10) and ‘Down by Mother Volga' (Set 1, No. 17) have parts for chorus.

Movements and Duration

Set 1 (1872) contains 24 songs:

1. 'The Crane' (Жур-Журавел)
2. 'In Spring' (Весной)
3. 'In Summer' (Летом)
4. 'In Autumn' (Осенью) [2]
5. 'The River' (Речка)
6. 'The Little Bird' (Птичка)
7. 'The Beaver' (Бобер)
8. 'In Winter' (Зимой)
9. 'Oh, My Duckling in the Meadow' (Ой, утушка луговая)
10. 'We Worked the Land' (А мы землю наняли)
11. 'Song of the Volga Boatmen' (Эй ухнем! Бурлацкая)
12. 'Titmouse' (Синичка)
13. 'Before Spring' (Перед весной)
14. 'The Willow' (Ивушка)
15. 'Mushrooms' (Грибы)
16. 'The Sparrows and the Cat' (Боробьи и кошка)
17. 'Down By Mother Volga' (Вниз по матушке по волге)
18. 'The Crane' (Журавель)
19. 'The Woodcutter' (Дровосек)
20. 'The Cat' (Кошка)
21. 'A Mosquito, a Sparrow, an Eagle and a Man' (Комар, воробей, орел и человек)
22. 'Hay-Making Time' (Сенокос)
23. 'The Goat' (Козел)
24. 'The Gardeners' (Садовники).

Set 2 (1877) contains 16 songs [3]:

1. 'Duck and Ducklings' (Утука и утята)
1a. 'Canvas' (Холст)
2. 'Oh, It's Time to Start the Garden' (Ах, пора нам огород городить)
3. 'Work and Play' (Работа и веселье)
4. 'We Walked Far in the Forest' (Как во лесу мы долго гуляли)
5. 'The Smiths' (Кузнецы)
6. 'A Blizzard Rages in the Streets' (Вдоль по улице метелица метет)
7. 'The Little Tower' (Теремок)
8. 'From Beyond the Dark Forest' (Из-за лесу, лесу)
9. 'In the Field a Birch-Tree Stood' (Во поле березонька стояла)
10. 'The River Overflows' (Разилася вода, разилася)
11. 'By the River, By the Bridge' (Возле речки, возле моста)
12. 'Oh, the Berry-Tree Stood in the Field' (Уж как во поле калинушка стоит)
13. 'The Musicians' (Музыканты)
14. 'The Mill' (Мельница)
15. 'A Shepherd Played the Reed-Pipe' (На рожке пастух играл).


The first set of twenty songs was prepared in response to a pressing request from the compiler — Mariya Mamontova — early in 1872. In May, Tchaikovsky sent Pyotr Jurgenson the proofs of the songs with his own harmonisations. which appeared in print in August the same year [4].

Tchaikovsky worked on the second set of songs during the first half of 1877, but they were not published at that time. It seems that Tchaikovsky did not send off the manuscript right away, and it was subsequently mislaid [5].

In 1878, Mariya Mamontova sent him still more songs to work on, but the composer, who had worked on the first two sets with great reluctance, flatly refused the request and returned her manuscript. But he asked Pyotr Jurgenson to refund Mariya Mamontova the money she had lost from the second set [6].

Tchaikovsky was probably rather embarrassed by the nature of the songs in Mariya Mamontova's collection—ranging from ancient peasant songs to modern town songs—and which were not always accurately transcribed. It seems that Mamontova was not responsible herself for recording the songs used in both collections, which were taken from a variety of sources.


In August 1872, the first set was published in Moscow by the compiler's husband, Anatoly Mamontov (1839–1905) [7]. This was reprinted in 1875 with a supplement containing arrangements of the 24 songs for 3-part mixed chorus by Karl Albrecht [8].

When Jurgenson came to reprint this set in 1888, Tchaikovsky wanted his name taken off the title page. However, the publisher refused to comply [9].

Set 2 was only published for the first time in 1949, along with Set 1 in volume 61 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Sofiya Ziv.


Mariya Mamontova's manuscript of Set 1, with Tchaikovsky's annotations, is now preserved in the Russian National Museum of Music in Moscow (ф. 88, No. 151) [view].

The manuscript score of Set 2 is held in the archives of the Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reservein Klin (a1, No. 178).

Related Works

  • Set 1, No. 17. 'Down by Mother Volga' was used in the first movement of the Symphony No. 2 (1872).
  • Set 1, No. 18. A variant of 'The Crane' was used in the finale of the Symphony No. 2 (1872), in the third movement of the unfinished Symphony in E-flat major (1892), and in the piano piece Scherzo-fantaisie (No. 10 from the Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72) (1893).
  • Set 2, No. 9. 'In the Field a Birch-Tree Stood' was used in the finale of the Symphony No. 4 (1877).
  • Set 2, No. 11. 'By the River, By the Bridge' is the main theme of a piano piece, which Tchaikovsky wrote during the early 1860s.

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Entitled Children's Songs on Russian and Little Russian Tunes in ČW.
  2. In the published score, 'In Autumn' (Set 1, No. 4) was replaced by a different version of the same tune, with the title 'Autumn'.
  3. The manuscript score includes another song: Canvas (Холст), between Nos. 1 and 2, which was harmonized by Tchaikovsky but later struck out.
  4. See Letter 258 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 16/28 May 1872.
  5. See Letter 660 to Nikolay Kashkin, 26 November/8 December 1877.
  6. See Letter 872 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 18/30 July 1878.
  7. Passed by the censor on 26 August/7 September 1872.
  8. Passed by the censor on 15/27 December 1874.
  9. See Letter 3639, 9/21 August 1888, and Letter 3646, 14/26 August 1888, both to Pyotr Jurgenson; and also from Pyotr Jurgenson to Modest Tchaikovsky, 10/23 September 1901 — Klin House Museum Archive.