The Seasons is a set of twelve short character pieces for solo piano by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Each piece is the characteristic of a different month of the year in the northern hemisphere. The work is also sometimes heard in orchestral and other arrangements by other hands. Individual excerpts have always been popular – Troika (November) was a favorite encore of Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Barcarolle (June) was enormously popular and appeared in numerous arrangements (for orchestra, violin, cello, clarinet, harmonium, guitar and even mandolin).
In 1875, Nikolay Matveyevich Bernard, the editor of the St. Petersburg music magazine Nouvellist, commissioned Tchaikovsky to write 12 short piano pieces, one for each month of the year. Bernard suggested a subtitle for each month's piece. Tchaikovsky accepted the commission and all of Bernard's subtitles, and in the December 1875 edition of the magazine, readers were promised a new Tchaikovsky piece each month throughout 1876. The January and February pieces were written in late 1875 and sent to Bernard in December, with a request for some feedback as to whether they were suitable, and if not, Tchaikovsky would rewrite February and ensure the remainder were in the style Bernard was after. March, April and May appear to have been composed separately; however the remaining seven pieces were all composed at the same time and written in the same copybook, and evidence suggests they were written between 22 April and 27 May.