Autumn from “The Seasons: October” (orch. March 2008) is a solo piano work written by Tchaikovsky in 1876. This 12-movement cycle called “The Seasons” represents each movement as a different character piece called a different from month from the calendar year. It was written shortly after completing his First Piano Concerto and during the writing Swan Lake in St Petersburg, Russia. The commissioner, Nikolay Matveyevich Bernard, suggested the idea of the seasons and included subtitles for each month, which Tchaikovsky accepted wholly. Nearly all of the pieces are in simple ABA form and written sporadically and Bernard was given January and February’s pieces ahead of completing the entire composition to ensure that these were indeed satisfying to his benefactor.
October (“Autumn” or “Autumn Song”) was published and is one of the lesser known pieces performed today. Though composed for children, the collection remains a staple in young people’s repertoire and has endured many incarnations in different instrumental adaptations and transcriptions. Written in D minor, it has an emphasis on polyphonic theme development and is strongly influenced by Robert Schumann and in some instances, Felix Mendelssohn.
Its subtitles furnished by Bernard reads:
“Autumn, our poor garden is all falling down,
the yellowed leaves are flying in the wind.”