|Date||27 October/8 November 1886|
|Addressed to||Félix Mackar|
|Where written||Saint Petersburg|
|Autograph Location||Paris (France): Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département de la Musique|
|Publication||, tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 57|
(1971), p. 484–486
Text and Translation
By Luis Sundkvist
27 Octobre/2 Novembre 1886
Mon cher ami!
Je V[ou]sde où je me trouve depuis quelques jours pour des affaires de famille et où je viens de recevoir Votre lettre.
Je suis désolé des pertes d'argent que mesVous occasionnent, — mais je n'y puis rien, mon ami et tout ce que je puis faire c'est de V[ou]s conseiller de ne pas les acheter chez Jurgenson. Pourquoi ces 1000 francs payés à Jurgenson pour les « d'Oksane» quand cet ne peut trouver d'acheteurs en France??? Je ne conçois pas Votre calcul. V[ou]s avez l'air de m'en vouloir un peu d'avoir fait 12 et non 12 morceaux de piano. Mais si l'Impératrice avait manifesté le désir d'accepter la dédicace de quelques mélodies, — je ne pouvais pas cependant lui faire autre chose? Et d'ailleurs tout en souhaitant aussi chaleureusement que possible que ma musique V[ou]s apporte de l'argent, — il m'est impossible cependant de me conformer toujours à ce qui peut V[ou]s faire plaisir. Je veux bien penser à Vous et tâcher de faire de jolis morceaux pour piano seul autant que possible, — mais il faut aussi que je fasse autre-chose. Je V[ou]s en prie, mon cher ami, ne me reprochez jamais les pertes d'argent que, sans le vouloir, je puis V[ou]s occasionner en composant telle ou quelle chose qui ne peut avoir du succès en France. Non que cela me blesse, — mais cela me chagrine et m'attriste et cependant je n'y puis rien. Je V[ou]s promets positivement de faire des morceaux de piano dès que j'aurai terminé mon . Maintenant parlons autre chose et ne m'en voulez pas de ce que je viens de V[ou]s exprimer sincèrement ce que j'ai ressenti en lisant Votre lettre.
Il me sera bien difficile de me procurer de l'argent pour l'affaire Colonne, car j'ai dépensé énormément de ce vil métal pour des affaires de famille. Et le cours du papier-rouble est plus bas que jamais! Cependant je puis V[ou]s préciser la somme que je pourrai me procurer à cet effet. C'est 1000 roubles, soit 2,500 francs, ou à peu près. Si Mr Colonne pouvait se contenter de cettesomme, je veux bien que V[ou]s commenciez Vos démarches auprès de lui. Je puis venir quand V[ou]s voudrez excepté les mois Novembre et Décembre. donc, mon ami, d'arranger la chose et faites moi vite savoir le de Vos démarches. Si Colonne dit que 2500 fr[ancs] est trop peu, demandez lui le plus possible quelle est la somme qu'il faut dépenser pour avoir le plaisir et l'honneur de prendre la moitié d'un de ses concerts. Je V[ou]s dirai franchement que je désire beaucoup que cela s'arrange et que je serai on ne peut plus heureux et content de venir à Paris à cette occasion. Mais je V[ou]s assure qu'il m'est tout à fait impossible, , cette année, ou plutôt cette saison, d'obtenir plus d'argent que la somme mentionnée.
Je viensà Jurgenson par rapport au de la Doumka. Il est très distrait probablement qu'il me l'avait formellement promis.
Je reste ici quelques jours encore et ensuite je m'en vais à Moscou pour assister et probablement diriger à la première des «Caprices». Écrivez moi donc à Moscou, Jurgenson, pour remettre à M. P. T. J'ai à Jurgenson ce que V[ou]s me chargez de lui dire par rapport à la Valse d'Onéghine.
Mon Dieu, que je serai content si V[ou]s m'arrangez l'affaire Colonne. Et quel plaisir j'aurai à venir à Paris, à me trouver au Passage des Panoramas, a respirer l'air de ce cher Paris que j'aime de toute la force de mon!!
Mille choses de ma part à M[ada]me Mackar, auxCondemines, à Lefebvre, Bernard et tous les amis.
Votre très affectionné ami,
27 October/8 November 1886
My dear friend!
I am awfully sorry for the financial losses which my operas are causing you, but there's nothing I can do about it, my friend — all I can do is to advise you not to buy them from Jurgenson. Why did you pay 1,000 francs to Jurgenson for "Les caprices d'Oksana" when this is an opera which cannot find any buyers in France??? I do not understand what you were reckoning with. You seem to be a bit annoyed with me that I have written 12 romances rather than 12 piano pieces. But if the Empress expressed the wish that I should dedicate some romances to her, then surely I could not go off and write something else for her? . And, besides, though I do wish as fervently as possible that my music should make you a profit, still it is impossible for me to restrict myself always to such things that might please you. I do very much want to show my consideration for you and to try to write some nice pieces for solo piano as soon as possible, but it is also necessary for me to write other things. I kindly ask you, my dear friend, never to reproach me for the financial losses which I might unwittingly cause you when composing this or that work which cannot have any success in France. It is not that this hurts my feelings, but it does make me feel vexed and sad, and yet there is nothing I can do about it. I promise you emphatically that I shall write some piano pieces as soon as I have finished my opera . Let us now talk about something else, and do not be angry with me for having just expressed to you sincerely what I felt when reading your letter .
It will be very difficult for me to get hold of some money for the Colonne affair, since I have spent an enormous amount of this vile metal in connection with some family matters . Moreover, the exchange rate of the paper ruble has never been as low as it is now! Still, I can specify for you the sum which I would be able to raise for this purpose — namely, 1,000 rubles, that is 2,500 francs (or almost). If Mr Colonne could be satisfied with this rather meagre sum, I would very much like you to begin your negotiations with him. I can come whenever you like, except for November and December. So do try, my friend, to settle the matter and let me know quickly the outcome of your negotiations. If Colonne says that 2,500 francs is too little, then ask him as tactfully as possible how much one must pay in order to have the pleasure and honour of taking up one half of one of his concerts. I shall tell you frankly that I very much wish that this should work out, and that I would be as happy and glad as I can be to come to Paris on this occasion. However, I assure you that it is quite impossible for me — at least this year, or rather, this season — to raise more money than the aforementioned sum .
I am staying here for a few more days, and after that I am going to Moscow in order to attend, and probably to conduct, the premiere of Les caprices d'Oksana . So address your letters to me as follows: Moscow, Jurgenson, to be forwarded to Mr P. T.. I have written to Jurgenson what you asked me to tell him regarding the Waltz from Onegin .
Goodness, how happy I should be if you could settle the Colonne affair for me! And how delighted I should be to come to Paris, to find myself in the Passage des Panoramas , to breathe the air of that dear city of Paris which I love with all the strength of my heart!!
Your most affectionate friend,
Notes and References
- In Letter 3073 to his brother Modest from Maydanovo on 10/22 October 1886 Tchaikovsky mentioned some of the reasons for his forthcoming visit to Saint Petersburg: he wanted to attend the premiere of Eduard Nápravník's opera Harold, but he also wanted to see Modest and their nephew, Vladimir Davydov ("Bob"), who was then studying at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence. The composer's diary for that stay in Saint Petersburg, which lasted from 18/30 October to 9/21 November, shows that apart from spending time with Modest, Bob, and other relatives — such as his elder brother, Nikolay, little Georgy, and his favourite cousin, Anna Merkling — Tchaikovsky also met up with such friends as Nikolay Kondratyev, Prince Vladimir Meshchersky, and Lucien Guitry.
- In the spring of 1886 Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich had informed Tchaikovsky that the tsarina, Mariya Fyodorovna, wished him to dedicate a romance to her. After completing the sketches for his opera The Enchantress later that summer, Tchaikovsky set about writing not just one, but a whole set of romances for the tsarina: the Twelve Romances, Op. 60.
- Apart from the Dumka, completed earlier that year, Tchaikovsky did not write any more piano pieces specially for Mackar, and did not finish his opera The Enchantress until 1887.
- This letter from Mackar to Tchaikovsky is not among the ones which were published in (1970), and it may well not have survived. We can guess at its contents, however, from Tchaikovsky's reply above, as well as from an entry which he made in his diary that same day: "Just wrote a letter to Mackar. He angered me a little by reproaches" — quoted from (1973), p. 131.
- The most likely real reason for Tchaikovsky having spent so much money recently is not so much "family matters" as the fact that he had been travelling back and forth between Maydanovo and Moscow many times during the summer and autumn because he was infatuated with a young Moscow cab-driver called Ivan ("Vanya") — see (2009), p. 280–281.
- In the end these plans failed to materialize, and Tchaikovsky's music would not be played again by Colonne's orchestra until February/March 1888, when the composer himself conducted his own works at two of the Châtelet concerts.
- Although the Dumka was specially written for Mackar, Jurgenson had insisted on his right to be the first to publish it. Tchaikovsky wanted to present the manuscript of his piano piece to Mackar as a token of his friendship and gratitude, and on a number of occasions he asked Jurgenson to send it to his Parisian colleague. Jurgenson, however, ignored these requests and held on to the autograph (as he did with so many other of Tchaikovsky's works).
- On 19/31 January 1887 Tchaikovsky would conduct the premiere of his opera Cherevichki (the revised version of Vakula the Smith) at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre: it was his first public appearance as a conductor since ten years (the last time having been when he conducted the Slavonic March in Moscow in February 1877).
- Mackar had complained about errors in the orchestral parts for the Waltz from Act II of Yevgeny Onegin which Jurgenson had sent him from Moscow, as we learn from Letter 3081 to Jurgenson of 26 October/7 November 1886: "You sent the Waltz from Yevgeny Onegin with so many errors in the [orchestral] parts that it was impossible to make use of them without having recourse to the full score" — cited by Vladimir Fédorov in , tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 58, note 7.
- Mackar's music shop was located at No. 22, Passage des Panoramas, that is inside that famous commercial passageway in the centre of Paris.
- Mackar's wife, Valérie. In 1888, Tchaikovsky would dedicate to her one of the prints made by the Hamburg photographer E. Bieber on 6/18 January 1888. He wrote on it the following inscription: "Madame Valérie Mackar souvenir affectueux" and sketched three bars from the Andante cantabile of his String Quartet No. 1 — see , tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 94. The portrait in question appears as Photo 60 in our Catalogue of Photographs.
- The brothers Henri and Charles Condemine who were friends of Mackar's. Tchaikovsky had met the pianist Henri Condemine at Mackar's house in Paris earlier that summer.
- Charles-Édouard Lefebvre (1843–1917), French composer whose works were published by Mackar. Tchaikovsky had met him at Mackar's house in Paris earlier that summer.
- Émile Bernard (1843–1902), French composer whose works were published by Mackar. Tchaikovsky had met him at Henri Condemine's house in Paris earlier that summer.