Variations on the Russian Folksong 'In the Garden'
For 2 Violins and Cello
“Fate is quixotic. Glinka is known as the 'Father of Russian Music', yet Alyabiev began composing his 500 works long before Glinka was on the scene and probably was just as deserving of the title Father of Russian Music. He wrote several operas on Russian subjects long before Glinka did, e.g. Prisoner of the Caucasus based on Pushkin."---The Chamber Music Journal
Alexander Alyabiev (1787-1851 also transliterated variously as Aliabiev, Alyabyev, Alabiev, Alaybieff etc.) was born in the Siberian city of Tobolsk which served as the capital of Western Siberia until 1917. At the time of his birth, his father was governor of the province. The family moved to St. Petersburg in 1796 where Alyabiev received piano lessons. He lived a rather romantic life, joining the Tsar’s army to fight against the invading French in 1812. He took part in the Battle of Borodino. It was about this time that his first songs were published. He became a decorated officer and continued to serve with the Army until 1823 after which he lived in St. Petersburg. He was suspected of being a member of the Decembrists, a group which tried to assassinate the Tsar in 1825. Proof was hard to come by so a false charge of murder was lodged against him. After a rigged trial, he was exiled to Siberia until 1832 after which time he was allowed to move to the Caucasus for medical reasons. He lived there until 1843 and much of his music shows the influence of this region. He wrote works in virtually every genre and is thought to have penned 3 string quartets, 2 piano trios, a piano quintet, a woodwind quintet and several instrumental sonatas. Today he is remembered for one piece, a song The Nightingale, which became incredibly famous and has remained in the repertoire. His other works, many of which were censored, fell into oblivion and he remained forgotten until the centennial anniversary of his death in 1951 brought about renewed interest in his works. Literally hundreds lay untouched and forgotten in the dusty archives of the Central Moscow State Museum Library. It was at this time that several were published, including this one. Examination of the manuscript suggests that this piece was to be part of a larger work, perhaps an entire string trio. The theme is taken from the Russian folksong In the garden, yes! In the vegetable garden. There follows a set of five variations and a short coda.
We have reprinted the first edition but have made a few improvements for performance.