"Children’s Album" by P. Tchaikovsky: Formation and Poetics of the Piano Cycle


The article deals with the formation and poetics of "Children’s album" for the piano by P. Tchaikovsky as a specific kind of miniature cycle of the XIX century. P. Tchaikovsky’s addressing the theme of childhood in different periods of his creative activity was always accompanied by solving existential issues. "Children’s album", just like the composer’s most tragic work – Sixth symphony, is devoted to his favourite nephew Volodya Davidov. The cycle clearly shows the idea of aesthetic didactics, the composer’s aspiration to form the young man's views on music and its language. Just like R. Schumann’s "Album for the youth", "Children’s album" by P. Tchaikovsky is like a music primer that teaches the language of European romanticism and focuses on the peculiar character of Russian culture at the same time. In this research, the work Op. 39 by P. Tchaikovsky "Children’s album" is viewed as a piano cycle consisting of 24 preludes. This is proved not only by the number of plays, but also by genre and compositional characteristics. He continued working on the cycle, side by side composing "The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom". In this very period of his life P. Tchaikovsky was solving important existential issues related to his attitude to life, strengthening of the symbol of faith. The composer created images of home comfort ("Morning Prayer", "Winter Morning", "Mum", "Song of the Old Maid"), travel ("Italian Song", "Old French Melody", "German Song", "Neapolitan Song"), saloon ("Waltz", "Mazurka", "Polka"), street ("Peasant Playing on the Accordion", "The Organ-Grinder"), reveries ("Sweet Reverie"), folk mythology ("The Sorceress"), Russian themes ("Russian Song", "Russian Folk Dance"), musical landscape ("Song of the Lark"), child’s play and fun ("The Little Rider", "The Toy Soldiers’ March"). The cycle contains a mini trilogy devoted to a doll ("Dolly is Ill", "Dolly’s Funeral", "The New Doll") that can be considered a subdivision of the game theme. The cycle is finished with a play "At Church". Thus, the first and the last work are combined into an arch; the common feature in both cases is a solemn religious beginning. "Children’s album" by P. Tchaikovsky can be regarded as a depiction of events "on one day of a child’s life" "Children’s album" by P. Tchaikovsky side by side with the well-known works by R. Schumann, E. Grieg, C. Debussy as well as other classic composers became the world’s most famous musical masterpieces for children. 

Keywords: "Children’s album", P. Tchaikovsky, piano cycle