Musical Gifts

Musical compositions in honor of the members of the royal family has a long tradition. Already in the Middle Ages, the Russian church hymns were chanted for a sovereign and other members of the reigning family.

Praise or panegyric chants appeared as non-religious forms and genres of glorifying a monarch during the reign of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. However, hymns, canticles, chants were never given to the royal persons as musical gifts. During the Middle Age, the authors never considered the fruits of their labors to be their personal merit and never signed their works. They could not give their own names to pieces of music created by them.

Musical manuscripts presented to the rulers, appeared in Russia during the age when human personality became important, and individual efforts were recognized: this age fell on the imperial period.


Music in the Romanov Family

Presentation of music manuscripts to the emperors was not just a ceremony or a manifestation of the feelings of loyalty. Giving their works to royal persons, composers had no doubt that they would be thoroughly appreciated by true music experts. This belief was based on the fact that all members of the House of Romanov could objectively judge musical compositions, as each of them was well educated in music.

Music was a necessary part of every child's education in the imperial family. Famous musicians were invited to give private lessons the royal children. So, V. Manfredini was a teacher of Paul I, D. Bortnyansky and F. Diez (student of Christoph Gluck) teached music Alexander I, V. Polovtsiev (student of Adolf von Henselt) gave music lessons to Alexander III - and etc. Thanks to teachers and regular exercises, Russian emperors could play musical instruments.

Alexander I played the violin and clarinet, Nicholas I and Alexander III chose instruments related to military music. They both played the French horn. In addition, Nicholas was also a flute and cornet player, Alexander liked the trumpet. Alexander II, Nicholas II, and all women from the Romanov Dynasty were amateur pianists. Nicholas II's son Tsarevich Alexei 'superbly played the balalaika'. Most importantly, all of them were described by their contempories to be music connoisseurs and experts. In this regard, the music manuscripts were given to royal persons to show respect to their hobbies.

© The National Library of Russia, 2013
english@nlr.ru