According to O Pioneers! Scholarly Edition, "Historical Essay," in a letter to H.L. Mencken, "Cather writes that when she was fourteen she came upon four of Tolstoy's works — Anna Karenina, The Cossacks, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and The Kreutzer Sonata — and for the next three years read them over and over again. She says that this reading so strongly colored the way she saw her own world in America that she eventually turned to a long apprenticeship with Henry James and Mrs. Wharton to get over it. Yet in writing O Pioneers!, she wonders if she has really recovered from the Russian influence."
The title of Tolstoy's story refers to Beethoven's Sonata in A minor, opus 47, for piano and violin. In The Song of the Lark III, the story does not make Thea Kronborg "feel any more cheerful. She threw it aside with hatred. She could not believe it was written by the same man who wrote the novel that had thrilled her," Anna Karenina.