La Marseillaise, European operas, and romantic Russian songs

[ROMANOV, Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich] – TSVETKOV M. and Vasilii KITAEV (artist)

Muzykalnyia stsenki. Popuri

[Musical Sketches. Potpourri]

Publication: Skt. Peterburg, [8 November] 1888.

[ROMANOV, Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich] – TSVETKOV M. and Vasilii KITAEV (artist), Muzykalnyia stsenki. Popuri

An interesting compilation of various international and Russian music, all manuscript, with a lovely watercolour title page and all kept in a refined master binding: a very attractive imperial portfolio made for the Grand Duke. Very rare.

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Our Notes & References

Fine Imperial item: a musical manuscript with an elaborate watercolour title by a known artist, all kept in a signed luxurious binding in particularly fine condition considering its fragility, and presented to a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I, Grand Duke Mikhail Mikhailovich (1861-1929), famous for having married Pushkin’s granddaughter, which caused a scandal and their exile for life. He settled permanently in England in 1900 and became a prominent member of British aristocratic society and an important figure in the international set in the French Riviera where he was known as the “Uncrowned King of Cannes” (Cockfield). As a result he survived the war and the revolution.

While in Russia, the, “adored military service and felt excellent in the ranks of the Egerskii (Chasseurs) Regiment of the guards […] His attractive appearance, noble heart and abilities as a dancer made him a favourite of the St. Petersburg high society” recalled his brother Grand Duke Aleksandr Mikhailovich. Primarily a Colonel and adjutant at the Imperial court, Mikhail Mikhailovich spent “a great deal of his time on endless parties, dancing and gambling” (Cockfield).

Compiled by Tsvetkov, the album unites 19 popular musical pieces from “La Marseillaise” and the “Santa Lucia” song to fragments from Rossini’s opera ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’, Meyerbeer’s ‘Les Huguenots’, ‘Die schöne Galathée’ by Franz von Suppé and Mussorgskii’s ‘Khovanshchina’. Further extracts include the famous ballet ‘Coppélia’ ​​by Léo Delibes, a musical interpretation of Heinrich Heine’s poem “Die Lore-Ley”, a march, several dances, and the popular Russian romantic songs “Skazhite ei” [“Tell her”], “Ne uezhai, golubchik moi” [“Don’t go, my darling”], “Tebia odnu povsiudu videt” [“To see you everywhere”], and “Naprasno ia zabyt ee staraius” [“In vain I try to forget her”].

We could not find any similar compilation, printed or manuscript, and we therefore can assume that this one was made specifically for the Grand Duke and possibly according to his taste. We couldn’t find much information on M. Tsvetkov either.

Beyond the interesting snapshot of music under Tsar Alexander III, the volume is also remarkable for its presentation: the binding includes a panel of especially soft and tender leather, here kept in fresh condition; and the title page is finely and elaborately painted in watercolour by Vasilii Nikolaevich Kitaev (1849-94), a Russian military engineer, lecturer, colonel and possibly an acquaintance of the Grand Duke. Kitaev studied drawing with graduates of the Imperial Academy of Arts at the Military Engineering School in St. Petersburg. A participant of the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78), he left a series of high-precision drawings about its events, including a fine large album of Russian positions during the Battle of Shipka Pass presented to Tsar Aleksandr II. At the end of the war, Kitaev entered the Academy of Arts and collaborated with English magazines (particularly ‘The Graphic’) and Russian newspapers as an illustrator.


Cockfield, Jamie H. White Crow: The Life and Times of the Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich Romanov: 1859–1919. Praeger. Westport, Conn., US. 2002.

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Physical Description

Folio (35.5 x 28.5 cm). Title painted in watercolours and ink (signed by Kitaev), 20 pp. music score on sheet music paper incl. 18 numbered pages with handwritten notes.


Brown calf by A. Ek, Skt. Peterburg, with stamped recessed compartment with title and seal of Grand Duke Michael Mikhailovich gilt to front, turn-ins with gilt tooling, watered silk endpapers.


Corners lightly rubbed, very light wear to covers and upper turn-in, few threads loose from silk, a couple of very minor stains at margins, otherwise very fresh.

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