Scherzo à la russe

Tchaikovsky Research

The Scherzo à la russe in B-flat minor, Op. 1, No. 1 (TH 124 ; ČW 98), was written early in 1867 in Moscow. It was Tchaikovsky's first published composition.

Movements and Duration

There is one movement: Allegro moderato (B-flat major, 267 bars), lasting around 7 minutes in performance.


The Scherzo was written early in 1867 at the request of Nikolay Rubinstein, and originally had the title Capriccio [1].


The first performance was given by Nikolay Rubinstein at a special RMS concert in Moscow on 31 March/12 April 1867.

On 8/20 January 1888 at the sixth Philharmonic Society concert in Hamburg, Vasily Sapelnikov performed the Scherzo à la russe in the presence of the composer.


The piece was published by Pyotr Jurgenson in 1868, together with the student Impromptu in E-flat minor. In 1884, Pyotr Jurgenson undertook to publish a collection of Tchaikovsky's piano works, and asked the composer to select the pieces for this edition [2]. Amongst other works, Tchaikovsky decided on the Scherzo à la russe, with the reservation that "'perhaps in view of its difficulty, you would prefer not to print it? It's up to you: I chose it only because Nikolay Grigoryevich played it" [3].

In 1945, the Scherzo à la russe was published in volume 51А of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Ivan Shishov.


The whereabouts of Tchaikovsky's manuscript score are unknown [4].


See: Discography


The published score carries the inscription: "À mon ami Nicolas Rubinstein".

Related Works

The main theme of the piece is a Ukrainian song noted by Tchaikovsky at Kamenka in 1865 [5], and which he also used in the String Quartet in B-flat major.

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 1 (1900), p. 273.
  2. Letter from Pyotr Jurgenson to Tchaikovsky, 17/29 April 1884 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  3. Letter 2498 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 31 May/12 June 1884.
  4. See also the article on the Impromptu in E-flat minor.
  5. Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 1 (1900), p. 197.