About the Cefaut Clef

Tchaikovsky Research

About the Cefaut Clef (О цефаутном ключе) [1] (TH 320 ; ČW 591) was a short article written by Tchaikovsky in 1892 for the Imperial Theatres in Saint Petersburg.


Little is known about the origin of this work. On 11/23 October 1892, Tchaikovsky wrote to Vladimir Pogozhev at the office of the Imperial Theatres in Saint Petersburg: "Today I'm sending you the litany on the capture of Schlüssen-burg. At the beginning you will find an explanation of the Cefaut clef. In the middle is a translation of one page of the manuscript for contemporary notation" [2].

It seems likely that Tchaikovsky had been asked by an official of the Imperial Theatres to adapt an old manuscript of church songs from ancient to modern musical notation. The song which Tchaikovsky adapted was a thanksgiving prayer for the capture fortress at Schlüsselburg (now Shlisselburg) near Saint Petersburg in 1702.


Tchaikovsky's autograph manuscript of the article and (incomplete) musical notation is in the archive of the Central Library of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg.


The article was first published in П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том III-А (1957), p. 250-252.

Notes and References

  1. Entitled 'About the C-fa-ut Clef' in ČW and 'About the C-clef' in TH.
  2. Letter 4783 to Vladimir Pogozhev, 11/23 October 1892.