Russian Muniature

The genre of musical miniature — a product of the so-called "gallant style", fashionable in Europe at the turn of the XVII-XVIII, reached Russia for more than a hundred years. But, having come into the field of view of Russian composers, he spread out a whole horizon of remarkable phenomena that can cause admiration. Piano miniatures, especially popular since Tchaikovsky's time, have become something of a secret script of emotions used by people who sympathize with each other. Another property of miniatures was their ability to "reportage sketches" of reality, as happened with the cycle "Seasons" by Tchaikovsky.

Tchaikovsky had already written his First piano Concerto and three symphonies when Nikolai Bernard, the son of the publisher of the Nouvellist magazine of musical novelties, came up with the idea to offer him a regular "report" in the form of pieces corresponding to the number of months in a year. In the period from the beginning of 1875 to the beginning of 1876, each issue of the "Nouvellist" was opened by a play with the title "January", "February", etc. In the future, the customer played a beautiful design story: he came up with a title for each month ("By the Fireplace", "Yuletide", "Snowdrop"), prefaced each play with poetic epigraphs from fashionable poets. Thus was born, perhaps, the most amazing calendar of Russian life for piano.

Tchaikovsky has since enthusiastically written piano pieces in whole cycles, confessing to them almost greater revelations than those he shared in his symphonies and operas. The experience of Tchaikovsky — perhaps the most authoritative for his younger colleagues-contemporaries — was quickly picked up.

Anatoly Lyadov's piano miniatures are considered the main part of his legacy. Cute dedications of plays. their elegant, and sometimes ingeniously humorous names literally shower with warmth and comfort of Russian life. Especially popular is the "Musical Snuffbox" dedicated to his son Mikhail. Lyadov provided the play with the only designation automaticamente ("automatically") and, just in case, gave the subtitle "Waltz joke". "And how is it so cute in your Snuffbox when suddenly something quacks or sneezes at the top! Oh, how cute, how comical, how graceful!" wrote the author of the strict music critic Vladimir Stasov.

Alexander Scriabin, whose work was piano by its most primary impulse (suffice it to say that 68 of the 74 author's opuses are piano music), went to the idea of Mystery that occupied him only through the universe of miniaturism. This can be clearly heard in his preludes, which in different years Scriabin carefully collected into cycles, composing into mini-cycles and individual pieces, like "A Leaf from an album". Magnetized by such micro-universes, Scriabin's creativity simply had to lead him to write the "Poem of Ecstasy".

Well, as a balance to Scriabin's ecstasy, there simply had to be a counterweight. A year after graduating from the piano department of the Moscow Conservatory, Sergei Rachmaninoff received a composer's diploma and the title of "free artist". His thesis was the opera "Aleko", for which Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who was sitting in the graduation commission, gave the author a "five", surrounded by "pluses" on four sides. Russian Russian miniaturism met its initiator and its finalizer, who managed to give all the charms of Russian piano miniatures a truly Dante dimension.


P. Tchaikovsky
— "The Seasons" or Twelve Characteristic Paintings, Op. 37 (1876-1876)

A. Lyadov
— "Bagatelle" Op. 30, Des-dur
— "Village Mazurka", op. 31 from the collection "Two plays" (1893). Dedicated to Yaroslav Zelinsky
— "Musical Snuffbox" (or Waltz joke), Op. 32 (1893). Dedicated to my son Misha

A. Scriabin
— Prelude, Op. 16 No. 1 from the cycle "Five Preludes", Op. 16 (1894-1895)
— "Leaf from the album", Op. 45 No. 1 from the cycle "Three Pieces for Piano" (1905)
— Preludes No. 8, 13, 14 from the cycle "24 Preludes", Op. 11 (1888-1896)

S. Rachmaninov
— Preludes No. 1, 4, 5 from the cycle "Ten Preludes", op. 23 (1901-1903)
— Prelude No. 8 from the cycle "Thirteen Preludes", op. 32 (August-September 1910)
— "Lilac". The author's transcription of the eponymous romance nat poems by E. Beketova (1921)
— "The Torments of love". Author's transcription of the play of the same name by French virtuoso violinist Fritz Kreisler (early 1920s)

Laureate of international competitions, artistic director of GBUK "Mosconcert" — Basinia SHULMAN

  • DATE 14.04.2023
  • Country Russia
  • City Moscow
  • Place Pushkin Museum


Date Event Name
14.04.2023, 19:00 Russian miniature
Russia, Moscow, Pushkin Museum


Басиния Шульман

Basinia Shulman

Laureate of international competitions, graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, student of Eliso Virsaladze, is a prominent representative of the Russian piano school. Touring in Russia and abroad, Basinia performs in prestigious concert halls around the world. Along with the academic repertoire, the artist offers improvisational interpretations of classical works, collaborates with jazz musicians, and experiments with crossover projects.

For many years, Basinia Shulman has been the creator and producer of various musical drama productions and educational programs that are successfully staged at various concert venues.