Sergey Rachinsky

Tchaikovsky Research
Sergey Rachinsky (1833-1902)

Russian academic, botanist, and amateur musician (b. 3/15 May 1833 in Tatevo, near Smolensk; d. 2/15 May 1902 in Tatevo), born Sergey Aleksandrovich Rachinsky (Сергей Александрович Рачинский).


After graduating from Moscow University, Rachinsky served in the archives department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, but was appointed tutor (1856–58) and later professor (1858–1868) of botany at Moscow University. He also edited the newspaper Russian Herald (Русский вестник). His later years were spent in religious education, and writing numerous books and articles on religion, art, literature and science. He was also a great admirer of Tchaikovsky's music.

Tchaikovsky's Settings of Works by Rachinsky

In 1869 Tchaikovsky wrote a Chorus of Flowers and Insects for an unrealised opera Mandragora to a libretto supplied by Rachinsky, but this project progressed no further, and many other operatic subjects suggested by Rachinsky were not taken up by the composer.

The following year Tchaikovsky briefly considered another libretto by Rachinsky in January 1870, namely Raimond Lully, based on a mystical Spanish subject, but this remained unrealised.

Rachinsky may also have been responsible for inserting verses by Konstantin Batyushkov to the programme (and eventually the score) of Tchaikovsky's fantasia Fatum (1868).


Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11 (1871) was dedicated to Rachinsky.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

3 letters from Tchaikovsky to Sergey Rachinsky have survived, dating from 1869 to 1881, all of which have been translated into English on this website:

2 undated letters from Rachinsky to the composer are preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive.