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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

We look into the living room of the Davidov family, who for many years rented a dacha in Tsaritsyn and was very fond of music.

Home concerts and performances were a favorite pastime for summer residents of the 19th century. At many dachas of Tsaritsyn, one of the most popular places for Muscovites’ countryside recreation at that time, there were musical drawing rooms with a good set of instruments for this purpose. One of these living rooms, in which members of the Davidov family of entrepreneurs and philanthropists and their guests gathered for several decades in a row, has been recreated in the Third Cavalier Building of the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve.

The central exhibit of the Dachnoye Tsaritsyno permanent exhibition is an old tafel-clavier, or table-like piano. Elena Ofitserova, curator of the exposition, tells about how it differs from its modern counterparts, as well as about the tastes and life of Tsaritsyno summer residents of the 19th century.

Piano, it’s a table

The table piano appeared at the end of the 18th century as a compromise for those who wanted to have a piano but could not put one in their home. For almost a hundred years, this particular instrument has been the undisputed favorite for home music-making. It was superseded in the 1880s by more resonant pianos close to modern ones. However, individual copies were in use until the 1930s.

By their design, table-shaped pianos are close to the grand piano, in which the strings are also arranged horizontally. In terms of sound quality, they fell short of the piano, but, unlike it, they could easily fit in a small living room. In addition, such pianos fit perfectly into the interior and performed a dual function: as soon as the lid was closed, the instrument turned into an exquisite table on which you could put flowers, candles or photographs.


The Tafelklavier is the German name for a tabletop piano. Since at one time these instruments literally conquered the entire musical world, their own names appeared in so many languages. In English they were called square pianoforte, in Spanish piano de mesa, in Italian piano a tavola, and in French piano carré.

The most musical family of Tsaritsyn

One of the halls of the Dachnoye Tsaritsyno exhibition presents the musical drawing room of the Davidov family. Here you can see mahogany furniture upholstered with raspberry damask, an elegant decorative sculpture “Bathing Venus” and a landscape by a German master. All these things testified to the high status and refined taste of the owners. In addition to playing music, guests were invited to play dominoes or cards – whist was usually preferred in those days.

In the second half of the 19th century, the family of the well-known businessman and philanthropist Ivan Davidov rented the Third Cavalry Corps of Tsaritsyn as a dacha and spent almost 50 years here. From the side of the Lower Tsaritsynsky pond, Ivan Yulievich built a terrace on which the family liked to spend time, enjoying the beautiful view. Despite a number of reconstructions made in the course of adapting the building to a dacha, the Third Cavalry Corps, thanks to the Davidov family, has survived much better than Vasily Bazhenov’s other “uninhabited” Tsaritsyno buildings.

The Davidovs were a very musical family. Almost all representatives of the family played some kind of instrument. Ivan Yulievich’s brother Karl was an outstanding cellist and founder of the Russian cello school. Pyotr Tchaikovsky himself dubbed him “the king of all cellists of our century” and dedicated the symphonic piece “Italian Capriccio” to him.

Stepdaughter of the musician Tamara Volkonskaya remembered:

“I remember Karl Yulievich at our dacha in Tsaritsyn; I see him sitting with the cello in our round hall near the piano; on the music stand, the notes that he looks through, occasionally playing individual passages, as if trying some new thing; there is no one in the hall, the family comes in and out, not paying attention to him … This summer his sisters also spent in Tsaritsyn, and he came to visit them.

Ivan Davidov was the secretary of the Brotherly-loving Society for the Supply of Poor Apartments in Moscow. At his own expense, he built a house with 26 apartments, which were donated to the needy, participated in the organization of orphanages and a school for blind children. For his active charitable work, he received the rank of Privy Councilor and even received a personal meeting with Emperor Alexander II and his daughter Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna in Moscow in 1874.

Country Tsaritsyno

The “summer period” in the history of Tsaritsyn began in the late 1860s. It was then that they began to lease land for construction. These were fabulous places: a large park, ponds, a palace ensemble by Vasily Bazhenov. The Tsaritsyno railway station, opened in 1865, made this area even more popular.

“Even the richest summer residents used the railway. They only used the services of a cab from the station. It was very convenient to get from Moscow to Tsaritsyn, especially if you are traveling first class. The train departed from the Kursk railway station and took only about 12 minutes,” says Elena Ofitserova.

One of the most comfortable dachas of Tsaritsyn was the dacha of the Muromtsevs. In a large two-story house with terraces and a mezzanine in the form of a tower, plumbing and electricity were installed, a kitchen, a carriage house, a stable and a janitor’s lodge were built nearby. Sergei Muromtsev, chairman of Russia’s first State Duma and one of the founders of constitutional law in Russia, rented seven sites in Tsaritsyn in the 1890s, but built up only one, leaving the rest exclusively for walking.

More than one romantic story is connected with the Muromtsevs’ dacha. Twelve-year-old Boris Bugaev (in the future – the writer Andrei Bely) in 1893 fell in love with the daughter of the owners, Manya. And the niece of Sergei Muromtsev, Vera, met her future husband Ivan Bunin in Tsaritsyn.

At various times philosopher Vladimir Solovyov, composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, writers Fyodor Tyutchev, Alexei Pleshcheev, Leonid Andreev and many others visited Tsaritsyn. Given the rich history, the staff of the museum-reserve could not help but think about the exhibition dedicated to the “dacha period” in the history of Tsaritsyn.

“Our exhibition has been open since May 2017,” says Elena Ofitserova. — We have a section about different families who rented dachas in Tsaritsyn, part of the exposition is devoted to the leisure of summer residents: lawn tennis rackets, a mallet and a croquet ball, several types of cameras, roller skates, paleontological finds and so on. There is also a music lounge that we talked about and a booth dedicated to science. People who were seriously interested in scientific research lived here, for example, Dmitry Ezuchevsky.

The exposition was prepared for more than ten years. Researchers searched for the descendants of the Tsaritsyno dacha residents, agreed to transfer negatives, diaries, and household items to the museum. Today, Dachny Tsaritsyn features 400 unique exhibits and over 200 photographs.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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