Aleksandr Pushkin

Tchaikovsky Research
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Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837), in an 1827 portrait by Vasily Tropinin

Leading Russian author and poet of the romantic era (b. 26 May/6 June 1799 in Moscow; d. 29 January/10 February 1837 in Saint Petersburg), born Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (Александр Сергеевич Пушкин), also known in English as Alexander Pushkin.

Tchaikovsky's Settings of Works by Pushkin


Pushkin's works formed the basis for three out of Tchaikovsky's eleven operas:

  • Yevgeny Onegin (Евгений Онегин), Op. 24 (1877-78), also known as Eugene Onegin, after Pushkin's novel in verse of the same name (1837).
  • Mazepa (Мазепа) (1881-83), after Pushkin's historical poem Poltava (Полтава) (1829).
  • The Queen of Spades (Пиковая дама), Op. 68 (1890), after Pushkin's short story of the same name (1834).

Two of Tchaikovsky's songs are also set to Pushkin's poems:

  • Zemfira's Song (Песнь Земфиры), probably dating from the 1860s, uses two stanzas from Pushkin's 1824 poem The Gypsies (Цыганы).
  • The Nightingale (Соловей), No. 4 of the Twelve Romances, Op. 60, after Pushkin's Russian translation of the Serbian folksong Three Greatest Sorrows (Tri naveće tuge) (1834).

Why Did the Merry Voice Grow Silent? (Что смолкнул веселия глас?), the second of Tchaikovsky's Three Choruses (1891), is based on Pushkin's poem Bacchic Song (Бакхическая песня) (1825).

At some point during his student years (1863-65), Tchaikovsky wrote music to accompany the Fountain Scene in Pushkin's tragedy Boris Godunov (Борис Годунов) (1825), although this composition is now lost.

Tchaikovsky's symphonic ballad The Voyevoda, Op. 78 (1890-91) was inspired by Pushkin's translation of the poem Czaty: Ballada ukraińska (The Ambush: A Ukrainian Ballad) by Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855).


In December 1884 and January 1885, Tchaikovsky corresponded with Vasily Kandaurov about a projected opera called The Gypsies (Цыгане), after Pushkin's 1824 poem of the same name. Although Kandaurov had already begun work on the libretto, Tchaikovsky quickly decided not to pursue the project.

Between 1885 and 1888 Tchaikovsky considered writing an opera on the subject of Pushkin's 1836 novel The Captain's Daughter (Капитанская дочка), to a libretto by Ippolit Shpazhinsky, before rejecting the idea.

A short sketch to words from Pushkin's poem The Vampire (Вурдалак) in the collection Song of the Western Slavs (Песни западных славян) (1834) — itself a translation from the French of La Guzla (1827) by Prosper Mérimée (1803–1870) — were made with those for Nos. 12 and 13 of the Sixteen Songs for Children, Op. 54 (1881-83), but this was not subsequently developed.


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