Three Choruses (1891)

Tchaikovsky's Three Choruses (Три хора) for unaccompanied voices (TH 87 ; ČW 74-76), were composed in February 1891 at Frolovskoye.


Scored for unaccompanied mixed (SATB) chorus (No. 1), male (TTBB) chorus (No. 2), or female (SSAA) chorus (No. 3).

Movements and Duration

  1. Tis Not the Cuckoo in the Damp Pinewood (Не кукушечка во сыром бору) [1]
    Moderato mosso (E minor, 81 bars).
  2. Why Did the Merry Voice Grow Silent? (Что смолкнул веселия глас?) [2]
    Moderato assai (G minor, 48 bars).
  3. Without Time, Without Season (Без поры да без времени)
    Andante con moto (E minor, 80 bars).

A complete performance of all three choruses lasts around 7 to 10 minutes.


  1. Nikolay Tsyganov (1797–1831), from an untitled poem (1832)
  2. Aleksandr Pushkin (1799–1837), from his poem Bacchic Song (Бакхическая песня) (1825).
  3. Nikolay Tsyganov, from an untitled poem.


The choruses were commissioned by Ivan Melnikov, for his Free Choral Class, and according to Modest Tchaikovsky, the manuscript scores for all three pieces bore the date 14/26 February 1891 [3]. As soon as the choruses had been written, Tchaikovsky sent them to Melnikov, who in a letter of 20 February/4 March 1891, enthusiastically thanked Tchaikovsky for the contribution, and sought permission to publish the parts in lithograph, evidently under the impression that the rights to publish the full score belonged to Pyotr Jurgenson [4].

Tchaikovsky's letter of reply, which has not survived, evidently explained that the choruses were wholly the property of Ivan Melnikov, and that he may publish them in his collection [5].


The choruses were quickly learned and performed with success at a concert given by the choral class on 23 April/4 May 1891, in the City Council Chamber in Saint Petersburg, as Ivan Melnikov reported to Tchaikovsky in a letter of 11/23 June 1891 [6].


The three choruses were published in Moscow by Pyotr Jurgenson in 1894 and 1895 in separate volumes of a series of Russian choruses edited by Ivan Melnikov:

  • Tis Not the Cuckoo in the Damp Pinewood in Russian choruses for mixed voices (Русские хоры для смешанных голоса), Part 1 (No. 7);
  • The Merry Voice Grew Silent in Russian choruses for men's voices (Русские хоры для мужских голосов) (No. 1);
  • Without Time, Without Season in Russian choruses for women's voices (Русские хоры для женских голосов) (No. 6).

In 1941 they were included in volume 43 of Tchaikovsky's Complete Collected Works, edited by Ivan Shishov and Nikolay Shemanin.


The whereabouts of Tchaikovsky's manuscript scores of the choruses are unknown.


See: Three Choruses (1891): Recordings


The choruses are dedicated to Ivan Melnikov's Free Choral Class, which was instructed by Fyodor Becker.

External Links

Notes and References

  1. Translated as It's Not the Cuckoo in the Damp Pinewood in ČW.
  2. Translated as Why Did the Merry Voices Grow Silent? in ČW.
  3. Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1902), p. 503. The manuscripts were subsequently lost.
  4. Letter from Ivan Melnikov to Tchaikovsky, 20 February/4 March 1891 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  5. See letter from Ivan Melnikov to Tchaikovsky, 13/25 March 1891 — Klin House-Museum Archive.
  6. Letter from Ivan Melnikov to Tchaikovsky, 11/23 June 1891 — Klin House-Museum Archive. See also the yearbook Обзор деятельности бесплатного хорового класса И. А. Мельникова, под управлением Ф. Ф. Беккер, за первый сезон 1890–1891 года (1891).