Letter 1383

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 19/31 December 1879
Addressed to Sergey Taneyev
Where written Rome
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow: Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (ф. 880)
Publication Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 2 (1901), p. 357 (abridged)
Письма П. И. Чайковского и С. И. Танеева (1874-1893) [1916], p. 35–36
П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 41
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том VIII (1963), p. 473
Notes Autograph date erroneously written as "31 December/19 January 1879"

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Рим  31 дек[абря]
19 янв[аря]

Адрес: Roma. Via S[an]-Niccolo di Tolentino. Hôtel Costanzi

Милый Сергей Иванович!

Позвольте отнять у Вас четверть часа и попросить Вас написать мне коротенькое письмецо по поводу следующего обстоятельства.

Юргенсон пишет мне, что сюита моя показалась Н[иколаю] Гр[игорьевичу] Р[убинштейну] до того трудной, что он находит почти невозможным её исполнение. Для меня это очень неприятный сюрприз, ибо, за исключением скерцо, я воображал себе, что сюита эта вовсе не трудна. Меня это крайне огорчает, раздражает, просто приводит в отчаянье. Чем больше я стараюсь быть простым и лёгким, — тем менее удачны мои старания. Потрудитесь спросить у Н[иколая] Гр[игорьевича], в чём именно он находит особенную трудность сюиты, и напишите мне об этом, только об этом, — это займёт у Вас не более четверти часа. Чтобы не вызывать Вас на обстоятельное и подробное письмо, ограничиваюсь этими несколькими строками. Передайте мои дружеские приветствия всем нашим. Как Ваше здоровье, Ваши занятия и расположение духа?

Ваш, П. Чайковский

Матушке Вашей и Масловым усердно кланяюсь.

Rome  31 December
19 January

Address: Roma. Via San Niccolo di Tolentino. Hôtel Costanzi

Permit me to take up a quarter of an hour of your time and to ask you to write me a short little letter regarding the following circumstance.

Jurgenson writes to me that Nikolay Grigoryevich Rubinstein finds my suite so difficult that he thinks it is almost impossible to perform [1]. This is a very unpleasant surprise for me, because, with the exception of the scherzo, I had imagined that this suite was by no means difficult. I am very upset and distressed by this; indeed, it drives me to despair. The more I try to be simple and light, the less successful are my efforts. Would you be so kind as to ask Nikolay Grigoryevich where the suite's particular difficulty lies in his view, and then to write to me about this, only about this — it will take you no more than a quarter of an hour [2]. So as not to induce you to write a thorough and detailed letter, I am limiting myself to these few lines. Pass on friendly greetings from me to all our lot. How is your health? And your work and mood?

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

I bow diligently to your dear little mother and the Maslovs.

Notes and References

  1. Tchaikovsky's Suite No. 1 had been given its first performance at a Russian Musical Society concert in Moscow on 8/20 December 1879, conducted by Nikolay Rubinstein. Two days later Pyotr Jurgenson wrote to the composer in Rome: "On Saturday the suite was played with great success. The first movement did not elicit any fervent manifestations of enthusiasm. The second was evidently to people's liking, the Andante was very much to their liking, but the March elicited a storm of applause which refused to die down until it was encored. The Scherzo was received very well. The Gavotte found the audience already worn out and burning with the desire to get away as quickly as possible. That was the audience. Rubinstein complained about how terribly difficult the suite was for the orchestra: just a little bit more and it would become quite impossible to perform; he said that for it to come out well, the whole orchestra would have to be made up of soloists" — note by Vladimir Zhdanov in П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 41–42.
  2. Taneyev would set forth Nikolay Rubinstein's reservations about the Suite No. 1 (concerning mainly its difficult passages for the woodwind instruments) in a detailed letter to Tchaikovsky on 28 December 1879/9 January 1880, which has been published in П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 42–46.