Siberian singing

PROTASOV, Nikolai Petrovich

20 narodnykh pesen Sibiri dlia odnogo golosa s soprovozhdeniem fortepiano

[20 Siberian Folk-Songs for Solo Voice with Piano Accompaniment]

Publication: [Skt. Peterburg?, 1902].

PROTASOV, Nikolai Petrovich, 20 narodnykh pesen Sibiri dlia odnogo golosa s soprovozhdeniem fortepiano

Rare etnographic musical work, a record of popular songs from Siberia, with the attractively decorated wrapper. First edition.

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Our Notes & References

First edition, very rare: OCLC locates the Harvard copy only. 

Nikolai Protasov (1865–1903), an active member of the Eastern Siberian section of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, was the first to go about a proper collection of the folk-songs of Siberia. In 1901 he recorded, on a phonograph, almost 150 songs, writing some of them out in notation. It is twenty of these songs which are published here as indicated in the long title: “From [the songs] collected in 1900 in the province of Irkutsk and the Transbaikal region by Nikolai Protasov.  Arranged by Aleksei Petrov.  Published … by the Song Commission of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society”.

Protasov’s complete collection did not appear in his lifetime, and it has even been suggested that he burned his manuscripts in despair at not being able to see his work in print.

According to the preface, it was thanks to Rimsky-Korsakov that these songs appeared at all. He gave them to the Commission set up by the Tsar in 1897 to collect Russian folk-songs, which published them as a follow-up to another folk-song collection, by Balakirev, Lyadov and Lyapunov.


From the estate of Geoffrey Elliott (1939-2021), banker of Russian descent, author of books on 20th-c. history.

Geoffrey and his wife Fay were noted collectors, especially of Oscar Wilde, Evelyn Waugh and other literary figures. Russia was also an important theme: Geoffrey’s grandparents were interned in a Siberian tsarist prison camp before the October Revolution, and he focused most of his published works on the Cold War.

The Elliotts donated a significant part of their collection to the library of Leeds University in 2002, but kept the Russia-related items, which we consequently acquired.

Item number



Physical Description

Large 8vo (27.2 × 19.5 cm). 34 pp. incl. title, plus final blank leaf.


Original chromolithographed wrappers designed by V. P. Shneider.


Wrappers a bit soiled or stained, upper wrapper with small surfaces of abrasion and mounted on a stub, with slight loss toward the spine, but far from the printed area, a few marks, later cloth spine and protective endpapers in the Soviet style; fresh internally, with only some light marginal creasing.

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