Letter 50

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Date 28 March/9 April 1852
Addressed to Aleksandra Tchaikovskaya and Ilya Tchaikovsky
Where written Saint Petersburg
Language Russian
Autograph Location Saint Petersburg (Russia): National Library of Russia (ф. 834, ед. хр. 33, л. 77–78)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 45–46
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 52.

Text and Translation

Spelling and punctuation errors in the original text have not been indicated.

Russian text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Пятница 28 Марта 1852

Сегодня такой день мои прекрасные родители, что нельзя писать по французски.

Сегодня страстная Пятница: после завтра начнётся Святая Неделя. Сегодня целый день буду читать или Евангелие или щипать шолк.

Время я провожу очень весело. Конечно без вас, но зато Платон Алексеевич и Мария Петровна и все так добры что нельзя выразить. Вот уж начинается весна, Нева скоро разойдётся, по ней уже запрещено ездить. Когда вы получите моё письмо, то прекрасная ваша Нейва, которая отличается от нашей реки только одной й верно разойдётся. Видите, как я уже привык жить в Питере, что даже говорю: наша Нева, у нас; одним словом совершенно как житель Петербурга.

Но вот скоро, скоро я не буду писать вам письма, а буду говорить с моими Ангелами лично. Ах как приятно будет первый раз в жизни приехать домой из Училища, посмотреть на вас, расцеловать вас, мне кажется что это будет для меня самое большое из счастий, которые со мной случались.

Вы, Зина, Саша, Поля, Толя, Модя, Лида, Настасья Васильевна, моя добрая и чудесная сестрица, Тётя Настя, все эти новые лица, перемены будут мне казаться сном, я не буду верить самому себе. В Субботу Платон Алексеевич, был так добр что приехал за мною, повёз на вербы, велел мне выбрать вещи, которые мне понравятся.

Прошлое письмо я вам писал: поздравляю вас с праздниками, а теперь могу сказать: Христос воскресе: и вообразите у меня такие уши не ослинные что я слышу что вы мне отвечаете: «Воистину воскресе». Уж вы меня как хотите браните а яичко я вам не могу прислать, и потому вообразите что у вас в руках яйцо, а я с своей стороны буду думать что у меня в руках ваше яйцо.

Вчера я был очень рад что нашёл между газетами такую, которая Сентября месяца, а именно 14-аго, и что же: Санкт Петербургские городские известия в Северной пчеле.

Приехали в С[анкт]-Петербурге
Чайковский

Я хотел сберечь газету или вырезать то место, где ваше имя, да нечаянно потерял.

Целую Зину, Сашу, Полю, Толю, Модю, Лиду, Н[астасью] В[асильевну], Тётю Настю (добрую душу чудесную) и одним словом всех.

Прошу ваше благословление.

Прощайте... го-го!!! как ошибся. До свидания! мои Ангелы душички и все возможное. Ваш сын,


Чайковский

P. S. Ich grüsse meine lieben Madamen Kemerling und besonders Каролина Даниловна.

Friday 28 March 1852

Today, my wonderful parents, is a day on which it is impossible to write in French.

Today is Good Friday: the day after tomorrow Holy Week begins. Today all day long I shall be either reading the Gospel or plucking silk [1].

I am spending my time very merrily. Without you of course, but Platon Alekseyevich and Mariya Petrovna and everybody are so kind that it is beyond description [2]. And now spring is on its way, the Neva will soon melt: it is already forbidden to drive over it. When you receive my letter, your wonderful Neyva [3], which differs from our river only by a single "y", will probably also have melted. See how I have already become accustomed to living in Piter: I even speak of "our Neva", "in our place" — in short, altogether like a resident of Petersburg.

Yet, soon, soon I shall not be writing you letters, but speaking with my Angels in person. Oh how pleasant it will be for the first time in my life to come home from the School, look at you, and smother you with kisses — I think that for me this will be the greatest happiness of all those which have ever befallen me.

You, Zina, Sasha, Polya, Tolya, Modya, Lida [4], Nastasya Vasilyevna, my kind and wonderful 'little sister' [5], Aunt Nastya [6]: all these new faces and changes will seem to me like a dream; I shall not be able to believe my own eyes. On Saturday Platon Alekseyevich was so kind that he came and fetched me, took me to the palms [7], and told me to pick out the things which I liked.

In my last letter I wrote to you: "congratulations on the feast-days", whilst now I can say: "Christ is risen!", and just imagine, I have such ears, though not donkey's ones, that I can hear you replying: "Verily He is risen!". Now you can scold me however you like, but I cannot send you a little egg, and so imagine that you have in your hands an egg, and I for my part will think that I have an egg from you in my hands.

Yesterday I was very glad to find among some newspapers one which was from September, namely from the 14th, and what do you think: Saint Petersburg city news in the Northern Bee [8]:


I wanted to put the newspaper away in some safe place or cut out the section in which your name was, but I accidentally lost it.

I kiss Zina, Sasha, Polya, Tolya, Modya, Lida, N[astasya] V[asilyevna], Aunt Nastya (a kind and wonderful soul), and, in short, everyone.

I ask for your blessing.

Goodbye... ha ha!!! what a mistake I've made. See you soon! my Angels, darlings, and everything possible. Your son,

Tchaikovsky

P. S. I send greetings for my dear Mesdames Kemmerling [10], and especially to Karolina Danilovna [11].

Notes and References

  1. In Russia, as in many other countries, finely decorated Easter eggs are traditionally given to relatives and friends to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. Such eggs are usually painted, but, as in this case, they can also be decorated with silk threads.
  2. Platon Alekseyevich Vakar (1826-1899) was the guardian of young Pyotr and his brother Nikolay from early/mid May 1851 until Ilya Tchaikovsky was able to move to Saint Petersburg with the rest of the family in May 1852. Platon Vakar was himself a graduate of the School of Jurisprudence, and it is possible that he played a part in Ilya Tchaikovsky's decision to enrol Pyotr in the school proper after he had completed the preparatory class. See Пётр Чайковский. Биография, том I (2009), p. 45. Mariya Petrovna (née Markova) was Platon Vakar's wife.
  3. The Neyva River in the Urals passes through Alapayevsk.
  4. The composer's cousin Lidiya Vladimirovna Tchaikovskaya (married name Olkhovskaya; 1836-1892) was the daughter of Ilya Tchaikovsky's elder brother, Vladimir. She lost her mother when she was quite little, in 1842, and was effectively adopted by Ilya and his wife Aleksandra.
  5. The composer's much older cousin, Anastasiya Vasilyevna Popova (1807–1894), the daughter of Ilya Tchaikovsky's older sister Yevdokiya Popova. Partly in jest, young Pyotr would call her by the affectionate nickname of 'Sestritsa' or 'little sister'.
  6. Anastasiya Petrovna Petrova (1824–1893) had joined the Tchaikovsky family in Alapayevsk on 24 November/6 December 1849 as a governess, specifically with the task of preparing Pyotr for the School of Jurisprudence in Saint Petersburg. After spending some three years with the Tchaikovskys she worked as a governess in various other families, but returned to her first employer in 1859, when she took charge of the twins, Anatoly and Modest.
  7. On the Saturday before Palm Sunday (which is the Sunday preceding Easter) fairs were traditionally held in Russia at which one could buy not just 'palms' (made from willow and yew) in memory of those which were strewn along the way during Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem, but also handcrafted toys which were very popular with children.
  8. A daily newspaper which at the time had the largest circulation in Saint Petersburg.
  9. In September 1851 Ilya Tchaikovsky had come to Saint Petersburg from Alapayevsk in order to visit his sons Pyotr and Nikolay, who was also attending a boarding-school in the imperial capital. Ilya spent about three weeks with his sons before returning to the Urals.
  10. An acquaintance of the Tchaikovskys in Alapayevsk was a certain Dr Kemmerling, and these ladies were evidently relatives of his.
  11. Karolina was the nanny in charge of the composer's younger siblings Aleksandra and Ippolit.