Tcherepnin, Alexander


Tcherepnin, Alexander

Three Pieces for Chamber Orchestra, Op. 37

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Alexander Tcherepnin – Three Pieces for Chamber Orchestra, Op. 37 (1921-25)

(b St Petersburg, Jan 21, 1899; d Paris, Sept 29, 1977)

I. Overture, p.1
II. Mystère, p.11
III. Training (Pour un entrainment de boxe), p.28

Born into a musical family as the son of renowned conductor and composer Nikolai Tcherepnin, Alexander Tcherepnin became one of the twentieth century’s most cosmopolitan composers. His extensive travels and high cultural sensitivity contributed to the development of a highly personal idiom in which elements of the important musical legacy of his native Russia were integrated with ones deriving from other rich traditions.
His first encounter with different musical backgrounds was when the family moved from St Petersburg to Tbilisi after the October Revolution, and, most importantly, when they moved out of Russia a few years later, settling in Paris in 1921. In his autobiography, the composer recalled his impressions upon arriving in the city, noting that, although “cultural exchange between Russia and the West” had ceased due to the Revolution: “[W]hen I finally came to Paris, in the fall of 1921, with a suitcase of my manuscripts and a small dog named Touchkan whom I had picked up on the streets of Tbilisi, I found that my way of thinking about musical progress was somehow identical with the views of the Western composers of my generation! . . . I actually felt more at home in Paris than in Russia or Georgia, at least musically, and this is probably why I settled there.” [Alexander Tcherepnin, A Short Autobiography (1964)] In the flourishing musical climate of Paris, young Tcherepnin matured as a composer, writing his first major large-scale works, such as his Symphony No.1, and several ballets and operas, while his career advanced significantly after he won the Schott Prize in 1925 for his Concerto da Camera, Op.33.

The beautiful three pieces that comprise Alexander Tcherepnin’s Opus 37 belong to this Paris period: all written for chamber orchestra between 1921 and 1925, they were premiered individually before they were first published as a single opus by Universal Edition in 1927.
The Overture was written in 1921 and, according to Arias, it was originally called “Canzona.” It was first performed in London two years after its composition, under the direction of Eugene Goosens.
The second piece, Mystère, was chronologically the last to be written, in 1925. It was dedicated to the cellist Umberto Benedetti, the premature death of whose son had inspired its composition. Benedetti himself performed the prominent cello part at the piece’s premiere, which took place in Monte Carlo in 1925, under the direction of Léon Jehin.
Finally, Training (alternative title: Pour un entrainement de boxe) was written in 1922, initially intended as ballet music on George Isarlov’s book “Training”. Unfortunately, the theatre “Femina” that was going to stage the ballet went bankrupt before any plans materialized, so the piece was premiered in its concert form in 1926 in Riga, under the direction of Nikolai Tcherepnin.

Three Pieces for Chamber Orchestra Op. 37 were recorded in 1996 by Musica Viva Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Alexandr Rudin (Catalogue No. OCD584).
Maria Theofili, 2019

For performance material, please contact Universal Edition (, Vienna.

Arias, Enrique Alberto.  “(2) Tcherepnin, Alexander (Nikolayevich).” Grove Music Online. 31 Jan. 2019.
Arias, Enrique Alberto. Alexander Tcherepnin: A Bio-Bibliography. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989.
Chou, Lily. “Alexander Tcherepnin. A Generic Catalogue of Works.” 30 Jan. 2019.
Reich, Willy. Alexandre Tcherepnine. Translated into French by Harry Halbreich. Paris: La Revue Musicale, 1962.
Tcherepnin, Alexander. “A Short Autobiography” (1964). Tempo, New Series, No. 130 (1979): 12-18

Aufführungsmaterial ist von Universal Edition (, Wien, zu beziehen.

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210 x 297 mm