Six Romances, Opus 38 (Tchaikovsky)

The opus Six Romances was composed in 1878 by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893) for voice and piano, and was published as Opus 38 later that year. Of these six songs, "Don Juan's Serenade" was the most successful, becoming one of the best-known works among the approximately 100 romances that Tchaikovsky composed during his lifetime.[1]

Tchaikovsky 1877.jpg

At this point in his life, the composer was rebounding from a personal crisis, having married and quickly separated the year before. Tchaikovsky characterized the creation of this opus as "something between relaxation and work".[2]

List of six songsEdit

Opus 38 consists of the following six songs, with tempo indicated in Italian:

  1. Don Juan's Serenade (Серенада Дон-Жуана), Allegro non tanto (B minor, 164 bars)
  2. It was in the Early Spring (То было раннею весной), Allegro moderato (E♭ major, 101 bars)
  3. Amid the Din of the Ball (Средь шумного бала), Moderato (B minor, 99 bars)
  4. O, If Only You Could (О, если б ты могла), Allegro agitato (D major, 38 bars)
  5. The Love of a Dead Man (Любовь мертвеца), Andante non tanto (F major, 129 bars)
  6. Pimpinella: Florentine Song (Пимпинелла: Флорентинская песня), Allegretto molto moderato (G major, 135 bars)

Origin of lyricsEdit

The lyrics of the first four songs are from writings of Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy (1817 – 1875), the Russian poet, novelist and playwright.[3] For example, the first song is based on Tolstoy's 1862 drama Don Juan.

The lyrics for "The Love of a Dead Man" are from Mikhail Lermontov (1814 – 1841), the Russian writer, poet and painter. And, the lyrics for "Pimpinella" are by Tchaikovsky, based upon a Florentine popular song.[3]

Composition and dedicationEdit

The six songs are not in chronological order of composition. He wrote the last two ("The Love of a Dead Man" and "Pimpinella") while visiting Florence in February and March 1878, respectively.[4][5] Later, he wrote the first four songs (based on Tolstoy) in May 1878 while visiting the Ukrainian estate of his benefactor, Nadezhda von Meck (1831 – 1894), who previously suggested he might want to put Tolstoy to music.[5]

The opus was dedicated to Anatoly, one of the composer's brothers, in gratitude for helping Tchaikovsky through a difficult emotional period in 1877. It was during that year when the composer married and separated from Antonina Miliukova (1848 – 1917).[6]


  1. ^ Schweitzer, Vivian. "Russian Romances, Lovelorn Variety", The New York Times (April 5, 2008).
  2. ^ To my best friend: correspondence between Tchaikovsky and Nadezhda von Meck, 1876-1878, pp. 229-233 (Oxford U. Press, 1993).
  3. ^ a b Brown, David. Tchaikovsky: The final years, 1885-1893, p. 501 (W. W. Norton & Company, 1991).
  4. ^ To my best friend: correspondence between Tchaikovsky and Nadezhda von Meck, 1876-1878, pp. 177-179 (Oxford U. Press, 1993).
  5. ^ a b Chaaeikovskiaei, P. and Sylvester, Richard. Tchaikovsky's Complete Songs: A Companion with Texts and Translations, pp. 111, 125 (Indiana University Press, 2004).
  6. ^ Wiley, Roland. Tchaikovsky, p. 197 (Oxford University Press, 2009).

External linksEdit