Rare Russian Songbook in Four Volumes

Noveishii polnyi russkii pesennik, sobrannyi iz narodnykh russkikh pesen i iz sochinenii izvestnykh russkikh pisatelei…v chetyrekh chastiakh [Newest complete Russian songbook, composed of Russian folk songs and of the works of famous Russian writers… Complete in four parts, bound as one].

Moscow: v Tipografii Vedomostei Moskovsk. Gorodskoi Politsii, 1854. Octavo (19.7 × 12.5 cm). Contemporary half cloth over marbled boards; gilt title to spine in German; [1], 6-130, [1], 6-99, [1], 6-108, [1], 6-168, XII pp. Good or better. Restoration to hinges; light overall wear to boards; occasional foxing throughout; bookplate of W. H. Mielck, cancelled label of a Hamburg municipal library.

First edition of this collection of songs that blends the folksy, sentimental lyrics written by famous Russian writers with a variety of Russian folk and ritual songs. Of the latter, the book includes songs for sviatki (winter holidays), for khorovod (Russian circle dance with elements of chorus singing), podbliudnye [under the plate] songs (e.g. chants performed as part of fortunetelling rituals), dance songs, wedding songs, and others. Famous writers named on the title page are Pushkin, Zhukovsky, Lermontov, Koltsov, Tsyganov, Viazemskii, Benediktov, Batiushkov, Venevitinov, Baratynsky and others, most of whom (with the exception of Viazemsky, Benediktov and Batiushkov) were recently deceased. Their lyrics seamlessly enter the popular song tradition, since the individual lyrics are unattributed in the text.

Collections of Russian folk songs were enormously popular starting in the mid-eighteenth century, with the most notable “Collection of various songs” published by Mikhail Chulkov in three volumes in 1770-1773. Similar to this collection, Chulkov did not record his own songs but compiled his collection from those already in print in various sources. The popularity of folk songbooks, especially among the urban petit bourgeoisie, peaked in the mid- nineteenth century. This collection is characteristic of the tastes of the urban audience in combining the sentimental written lyrics of individual authors with ritual folk songs. The collection appears to be unique in this blend, and seems to have been quite popular with the second edition appearing in 1873. This edition is rare, with KVK and OCLC showing print copies only at Harvard, LOC, and Oxford as of November 2019.

Book ID: P6329

Price: $2,250.00