Diaries (March 1886)

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Tchaikovsky's Diaries
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1887 January · February · March · April · May · June· July · August · September · October · November · December
1888 January · February · March
1889 January · February · March · April · May · June
1890 January · February · March
1891 April · May

Tchaikovsky's Diary No. 4 covers the period from 1/13 February to 14/26 October 1886, and includes the composer's visits to Tiflis and France during the spring.

In March 1885 Tchaikovsky was living at Maydanovo, near Klin, with his loyal servant Aleksey Sofronov and Aleksey's wife Pelagea, together with various other servants and guests.

Since 22 September/4 October 1885 Tchaikovsky had been working on his ninth opera, The Enchantress to a libretto by the playwright Ippolit Shpazhinsky. He was also preparing to travel to Moscow (2/14 to 12/24 March) for a directors' meeting of the Russian Musical Society, and to oversee the premiere of his Manfred symphony on 11/23 March. He would later travel to Saint Petersburg (14/26 March to 20 March/1 April), and on 21 March/2 April he set out with Aleksey on the first leg of a journey to western Europe, travelling south via Moscow, Vladikavkaz, the Caucasus, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

Text and Translation

The following diary entries were first published in Дневники П. И. Чайковского (1873-1891) (1923), p. 41-47, edited and with notes by the composer's brother Ippolit. They were also translated into English by Wladimir Lakond in The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1945), p. 54-61, and into German by Ernst Kuhn and Hans-Joachim Grimm in P. I. Tschaikowsky. Die Tagebücher (1992), p. 43-50.

The new English translation and detailed commentary published here for the first time was prepared by Brett Langston and Alexander Poznansky.

For consistency with previous diaries, entries are given according to Russian [O.S.] dates, which were twelve days behind the Western calendar.


Saturday 1/13 March 1886
1 марта. Весна; тепло и светло. Утром соблазнился чудесной погодой и все почти время прогулял. В Клину был базар. Подачки разным попрошайкам. (Ледоколы.) Вернулся около 12. Заходил к Прасковье жаловаться на то, что псы голодают. Однако ж успел удачно поработать. Обед. Ходил по галерее; солнце грело и веселило. Поиграл Нерона и потом, уступая припадку сонливости, дремал на диване в уборной. Чай. Гулянье. Что за божественная погода. Занимался очень удачно. После ужина играл Нерона. Все ещё не могу достаточно надивиться наглой бесцеремонности автора. Ах ты шут гороховый! Ей- Богу, злость берет, смотря на эту партитуру. А впрочем, ведь оттого я играю эту мерзость, что сознание превосходства, по крайней мере, в смысле добросовестности,—поддерживает мою энергию. Думаешь, что пишешь гадко, он посмотришь на эту дребедень, которую, однако ж, серьёзно исполняли,—и на душе легче. Мне стыдно, что я с такой злостью отношусь к подобному явлению,—но перед кем же в дневнике притворяться? .. 1 March. Spring; warm and bright. In the morning I was tempted by the marvellous weather and spent almost all my time walking. There was a fair in Klin. Hand-outs to various cadgers. (Ice-breakers.) Returned around 12. Called on Praskovya to complain that her dogs were starving. However, I still managed to work successfully. Dinner. Walked around the gallery; the sun was warming and raised my spirits. Played Néron [1], and then, succumbing to an attack of drowsiness, I dozed on the sofa in the dressing-room. Tea. Stroll. What heavenly weather this is. Busied myself very productively. After supper I played Néron. I still cannot find words of amazement sufficient to express the brazen pomposity of the composer. Oh, you buffoon! By God, I'm enraged looking at this score. Still, the reason I play this abomination is that the feeling of superiority it produces, at least in terms of artistic integrity, is good for my morale. He who thinks he is writing abominably will take one look at this claptrap, which somehow is still intended for serious performance, and have his spirits soothed. I'm ashamed that this is my attitude to such things, but why pretend otherwise for my diary's sake?
Sunday 2/14 March 1886
2 марта. Холод по-зимнему. Выезд из Мадина. В вагоне. Дети и кормилица. Завтрак. Москва. Пешком на заседание, состоявшееся не в Консерватории, а у С. М. Третьякова, бывшего накануне нездоровым. Глупость Эрдмансдёрфера. Обед у Губертов. Зверев, Ремизов. Винт. В 12 ч[асов] домой. 2 March. It's as cold as winter. I left Madino. In the railway carriage. The children and their nanny. Lunch. Moscow. I walked to the meeting, which took place not at the Conservatory, but at S. M. Tretyakov's [2], who the day before had been unwell. Erdmannsdörfer's stupidity [3]. Dinner at the Huberts' [4]. Zverev [5], Remezov [6]. Vint. Home at 12.
Monday 3/15 March 1886
3 марта. Беседы с Юргенсоном. Завтрак у Лопашёва. Излишки. У Альтани. В Консерватории. На репетиции ученического концерта. У Эрдмансдёрфера. Обед у Юргенсонов. Сон, виденный Толстой. У Карлуши. Колокола для Манфреда. Брюс. Андрей. Ново-Московский. Пьянство. Дома. 3 March. Talks with Jurgenson [7]. Lunch at Lopashov's [8]. I overindulged. At Altani's [9]. To the Conservatory. At rehearsals for the student concert. With Erdmannsdörfer. Dinner with the Jurgensons. I had a dream about Tolstoy. At Karlusha's [10]. Bells for Manfred [11]. Bryus. Andrey. The New Moscow [12]. Drank heavily. Home.
Tuesday 4/16 March 1886
4 марта. Холодный, несносный ветер. Встреча Вел[иким] Кн[язем]. Рассветов, доктор Репман и т. д. У Альтани. У Островского. У Шпажинских. Кутёж solo у Тестова. Вечерня в Успенском. Чувствую себя нездоровым. Дома. С Ю[ргенсоном] в собрание. Вел[ики] Князья. Чудесный концерт учеников. Фурор, произведённый Конюсом. Симпатичный мой сосед В[елики] К[нязья] Конст[антин] Конст[антинович]. Ужин в Консерв[атории]. Овация Алексееву. Домой ехал с Конст. Серг. Алек. Всю ночь несносно ныла щека. 4 March. Cold, intolerable wind. Meetings with the Grand Duke. Rassvetov, Doctor Repman [13], etc. At Altani's. At Ostrovsky's. At the Shpazhinskys'. Carousing solo at Testov's. Evening service at the Uspensky [14]. Feeling out of sorts. Home. With Jurgenson at the Assembly. The Grand Dukes. Wonderful student concert [15]. Konyus produced a furore. My neighbour was the charming Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich. Supper at the Conservatory. An ovation for Alekseyev [16]. Travelled home with Konstantin Sergeyevich Alekseyev [17]. My cheek was aching unbearably all night.
Wednesday 5/17 March 1886
5 марта. Разболелся совсем. Нарядился было во фрак, пошёл пешком к Юрг[енсону], но оттуда вернулся домой и целый день очень страдал от боли в щеке. Припадок сердцебиения у С. И. Ночь провёл ужасную; к утру только заснул как следует. 5 March. Utterly unwell again. I put on my tail-coat and set off on foot for Jurgenson's, but I returned home and the pain in my cheek has been torturing me all day. I had an attack of palpitations at S. I.'s [18]. I spent a horrid night; it was almost morning before I fell asleep.
Thursday 6/18 March 1886
6 марта. К утру образовалась сильная опухоль. Болело меньше, но весь день болела, и лихорадка продолжалась. Переписка прозой и стихами с Сашей Юрг[енсон] и Ел[еной] Серг[еевной]. Утром явился Попов (Ив[ан] Петр[ович]), которого я удалил, не будучи в состоянии говорить. Посетила Баташа. Много спал. К обеду явился Саша Гудим, а позднее гораздо Ларош. Вечером было скверно. 6 March. By morning a large abscess had formed. It was less painful, but I felt ill all day, and the fever endured. Correspondence in prose and verse with Sasha Jurgenson [19] and Yelena Sergeyevna [20]. In the morning Popov (Ivan Petrovich) [21] turned up, but I sent him away, not being in any condition to talk. Batasha [22] came to see me. I slept a great deal. At dinner-time Sasha Gudim [23] turned up, and Laroche much later. In the evening I felt wretched.
Friday 7/19 March 1886
7 марта. Спал много, но нездоровым сном. Попов и объяснение с ним по делам Хор[ового] Общ[ества]. Завтракал один. Чем дальше, тем сквернее себя чувствовал. К обеду Ларош пришёл и просидел весь вечер. Винтили. 7 March. I slept a great deal, but it was not a beneficial sleep. Discussions with Popov about the affairs of the Choral Society. Lunch alone. As the day drew on, the more wretched I felt. Towards dinner-time Laroche came and sat with me the whole evening. Vinting.
Saturday 8/20 March 1886
8 марта. Как будто лучше. Отказные письма от обедов. Сангурский и его картина. Завтракал с Соф[ьей] Ив[ановной]. Все ещё томился и страдал до 4 час[ов]. Внезапно к этому времени всю болезнь как рукой сняло. Шалил с девочками. Обедал с величайшим аппетитом; играл с Губертами и С[ергеем] И[вановичем] в винт, ужинал. 8 March. Somewhat better. I wrote letters of refusal to dinner engagements [24]. Sangursky and his picture [25]. Lunch with with Sofiya Ivanovna. Continued to mope and suffer until 4 o'clock, at which point the pain suddenly vanished, as if by magic. Pranks with the girls. I dined with a magnificent appetite; played the Huberts and Sergey Ivanovich at vint, then supper.
Sunday 9/21 March 1886
9 марта. Воскр[есенье]. Встал здоровый. После чая имел объяснение о делах с П[етром] И[вановичем]. Как всегда, выказал самую нескладно устроенную голову. Ждал Модеста, телеграфировавшего, что приедет с курьерским поездом. Модест приехал. Завтрак у Юргенсонов. В 3 часа я вышел в первый раз после болезни на репетицию Манфреда. Был недоволен и конфузился, ибо все казалось скверно. Обедали с Модей и Лар[ошем] в Эрмитаже. Вернулся в 12 ч[асов]. 9 March. Sunday. I rose feeling well. After tea I discussed business matter with Pyotr Ivanovich. As usual, I demonstrated how muddle-headed I am. I waited for Modest who had telegraphed that he would be coming up on the express train. Modest's arrival. Lunch at the Jurgensons'. At 3 o'clock I went out, for the first time after my illness, to the rehearsals for Manfred. I was dissatisfied and embarrassed, because it all seemed wretched. Dined with Modya and Laroche at the Hermitage. Returned at 12 o'clock.
Monday 10/22 March 1886
10[-го]. Понед[ельник]. В 9 ч[асов] репетиция. Остался доволен. Завтрак с Модей и Лар[ошем] у Патрик[еева]. Дома. Спал. Разбудил Борис... Творения Кузнецова, ради коих в 5 ч[асов] был у Юрг[енсона]. Корсов. Обед у Юрг[енсона]. Ларош, Модест, Губерт. Нездоровье С. И. Концерт Филарм[онического] Общ[ества]. Кузнецов, Аренс, Ильинский и их творения. Ужин у Патрикеева с Синельниковой. 10th. Monday. Rehearsal at 9 o'clock. I left satisfied. Lunch with Modya and Laroche at Patrikeyev's [26]. Home. Slept. Boris [27] woke me... Works by Kuznetsov [28], on account of which I was at Jurgenson's until 5 o'clock. Korsov [29]. Dinner with Jurgenson. Laroche, Modest, Hubert. Sofiya Ivanovna was indisposed. The Philharmonic Society concert. Kuznetsov, Arends [30], Ilyinsky [31] and their oeuvres. Supper at Patrikeyev's with Sinelnikova [32].
Tuesday 11/23 March 1886
11 марта. Мышь. Головная боль. Репетиция. Алексеев с Ушаковым. Оркестр аплодировал. Завтрак с Баташей, Губертом и Ларошем в Слав[янском] Баз[аре]. Прогулка. Дома. Спал. В 6 час[ов] поехал к Ларошам, у коих Модест обедал. Вместе в концерт. Манфред. Я в комнате. Эрдмансдёрфер бледен. Моё волнение. Полу-успех, но все-таки овация. Ужин в большой компании у Патрикеева. 11 March. Mouse. Headache. Rehearsal. Alekseyev with Ushakov [33]. The orchestra applauded. Lunch with Batasha, Hubert, Laroche at the Slavyansky Bazaar [34]. Stroll. Home. Slept. At 6 o'clock I went to the Laroches where Modest was having dinner. To the concert together [35]. Manfred. I was in the artists' room. Erdmannsdörfer was pale. My agitation. A semi-success, but there were ovations all the same. A large company for supper at Patrikeyev's.
Wednesday 12/24 March 1886
12[-го]. Четв[ерг]. У Моди в Кокоревке. Дома. У Танеева. У Шпажинской. Её истер[ическое] состояние. У Мекков. Лёва. Завтрак. У Юргенс[она]. На вокзале. Дурак Христофор. Шаховской. Путешествие. Дома. Алёша. Обед. Винт с Новиковой. Ларош у меня тоже. 12th. Thursday. With Modya to the Kokorevka [36]. Home. At Taneyev's. At Shpazhinskaya's [37]. Her hysterical state. At the Mecks' [38]. Lyova [39]. Lunch. At Jurgenson's. In the railway station. The idiot Khristoforov [40]. Shakhovskoy. Journey. Home. Alyosha. Dinner. Vint with Novikova [41]. Laroche was with me also.
Thursday 13/25 March 1886
13 марта. Встал после плохого сна. Чай вместе. Философ Мих[айл] Ив[анович] Софронов. Прогулка. Погода отвратительная. 9 писем. Обед. Прогулка. Один отнёс письма. Чай. У Моди головная боль. Играли альбом Gaulois. Дома. Занимался. Новичиха. Ужин. Винт. Решаюсь взять Алёшу. 13 March. I rose after sleeping poorly. Tea together. The philosopher Mikhail Ivanovich Sofronov [42]. Stroll. Abominable weather. 9 letters [43]. Dinner. Stroll. I posted the letters alone. Tea. Modya had a headache. We played the Gaulois album [44]. Home. Working. Novichikha [45]. Supper. Vint. Decided to take Alyosha along.
Friday 14/26 March 1886
14 марта. Решаю ехать в Питер с Модей. Ходил к Новичихе по поводу лошадей. Встреча Кат[ерины] Ив[ановны] Син[ельниковой]. Обед. Новичиха. Отъезд с Мод[ей] в Петербург. 14 March. Decided to go to Piter with Modya. Walked over to see Novichikha about the horses. Met Katerina Ivanovna Sinelnikova. Dinner. Novichikha. Left with Modya for Petersburg.
Saturday 15/27 March 1886
15 марта. Петербург[ская] Консерв[атория]. 1000 р[ублей]. Корс[аков]. Рубец, Тур и т. д. У Бюлова. Его жена. Глазунов. Обед дома. Концерт. Овация. Чай дома с Бобом и Колей. 15 March. The Petersburg Conservatory. 1000 roubles. Korsakov [46], Rubets [47], Tur [48], etc. At Bülow's [49]. His wife [50]. Glazunov [51]. Dinner at home. Concert. Ovations. Tea at home with Bob [52] and Kolya [53].
Sunday 16/28 March 1886
16 марта. Исаакий. Завтрак у Римского. Сетов. Обед у Саши. Рождение Веры. Михайл[овский] театр. La doctoresse. Бал у Веруши. Ужин у Toucet. Annette, Апухтин, Козлов, Крицкий и Гитри. 16 March. Isaac's [54]. Lunch at Rimsky's. Setov [55]. Dinner with Sasha [56]. Vera's birthday [57]. Mikhailovsky Theatre. La doctoresse [58]. Vera's ball. Supper at Toucet's. Annette [59], Apukhtin [60], Kozlov, Kritsky and Guitry [61].
Monday 17/29 March 1886
17 марта. У Ос[ипа] Ив[ановича] Юрг[енсона]. Завтрак у Контана с Базил и Бутаковой. У Направника (она и дети). У Коли. У Апухтина. Шах. Обед у Кондр[атьева]. С Бобом и Колей к Мале в карете. Вечер у Мали. 17 March. At Osip Ivanovich Jurgenson's [62]. Lunch at Kontan's with Bazilevskaya [63] and Butakova [64]. At Nápravník's (she and the children) [65]. At Kolya's. At Apukhtin's. The Shah. Dinner at Kondratyev's [66]. With Bob and Kolya to Maliya's in a carriage. Evening with Maliya [67].
Tuesday 18/30 March 1886
18 марта. Прогулки. Завтрак у Палкина. Проводы M[ada]me Гитри. У Annette с Модей. Золото. Тимоша. Обед у Бертенс[она]. У Саши. Большой вечер у Абазы. Мои светские успехи. 18 March. Strolls. Lunch at Palkin's [68]. Madame Guitry's farewells [69]. At Annette's with Modya. Gold. Timosha. Dinner at Bertenson's [70]. Sasha's. Grand soirée at Abaza's [71]. My high society successes.
Wednesday 19/31 March 1886
19 марта. Гулял. Казанский Собор. Преждеосв[ящённая] обедня. Закуски. Завтрак дома. Федя Литке. Карета. Визиты. У Корсаковых и Саши. У Кондр[атьева]. У Бутаковой. Обед у Коли. Лили. Annette. С ней в карете на вокзал. Проводы. Климентова, Яковлев, Шайкевич. 19 March. Walked. Kazan Cathedral [72]. Mass of the Presanctified Gifts [73]. Zakuski [74]. Lunch at home. Fedya Litke [75]. Carriage. Visits. With the Korsakovs and Sasha. At Kondratyev's. At Butakova's. Dinner at Kolya's [76]. Lili. Annette. With her in the carriage to the railway station. Farewells. Klimentova [77], Yakovlev, Shaykevich.
Thursday 20 March/1 April 1886
20 марта. Встал перед Тверью. Газеты. Дремота. Дома. Лошади (мои, но уже не мои). Чай. Ал[ексей] Киселёв. Чудная погода. Прогулки. У Новиковой. Болтовня. Работал. Распоряжения. 20 March. Rose before Tver [78]. Newspapers. Drowsiness. Home. The horses (mine, but no longer mine). Tea. Aleksey Kiselyov [79]. Wonderful weather. Strolls. At Novikova's. Chatter. Worked. Left instructions.
Friday 21 March/2 April 1886
21 марта. Выехал в Москву. Прощание. Слёзы Ариши. Завтрак у Патрик[еева]. У Губертов. Дома. Обед у Саврасенкова. Концерт. Ужин у Патрикеева. (В конц[ерте] Эгмонт и Фауст Листа.) 21 March. Left for Moscow. Goodbyes. Arisha's tears. Lunch at Patrikeyev's. At the Huberts. Home. Dinner with Savrasenkov. Concert [80]. Supper at Patrikeyev's. (The concert included Egmont and Liszt's Faust.)
Saturday 22 March/3 April 1886
22 марта. Хлопоты о паспорте. Завтрак у Лопашёва. У Альбрехтов, Шпажинских, Танеева, Катер[ины] Вас[ильевны] Переслени (Ермолова) [81]. Обед у Юрг[енсона]. У Мекков. Вечер у Губертов. Манфред в 4 руки и винт. С Ларош[ем] в ред[акции] Моск[овских] Вед[омостей]. 22 March. Fuss over the passport. Lunch at Lopashov's. At the Albrechts', the Shpazhinskys', Taneyev's, Katerina Vasilyevna Peresleni's (Yermolova). Dinner at Jurgenson's. At the Mecks. Evening at the Huberts. Manfred for 4 hands [82] and vint. With Laroche to the editor of the Moscow Register [83].
Sunday 23 March/4 April 1886
23 марта. Воскр[есенье]. У Эрдмансд[ёрфера]. На вокзале. Завтрак, пьянство, весёлые проводы. Отделение. Читал, спал, ел. 23 March. Sunday. At Erdmannsdörfer's. In the railway station. Lunch, heavy drinking, cheery farewells. The compartment. Read, slept, ate.
Monday 24 March/5 April 1886
24 марта. Харьков. Гулянье. Завтрак в Grand-Hôtel. Шляние. Борьба со сном. Всенощная в Соборе. Певчие. Вокзал. Обед. Трофим. Его жена и сын. Алёша. Полный вагон. Кресла. Противная здоровая дама, симпатичный офицер-помещик, грек-старик и т. д. Спал. 24 March. Kharkov. Promenade. Lunch at the Grand Hotel. Loafing about. Struggling to keep my eyes open. Vespers at the Cathedral. Singers. Railway station. Dinner. Trofim. His wife and son. Alyosha. The railway carriage was full. Seats. An objectionable hearty lady, a charming officer-landowner, and old Greek, etc. I slept.
Tuesday 25 March/6 April 1886
25[-го]. Весь день дремал и читал. Таганрог. Ипполит с Соней. Беседа и чай. Прогулка с Ипполитом. Оживлённое гулянье на большой улице. Старушка, сожительница их; винт, ужин, винт опять и дурачки. 25th. Dozed and read all day long. Taganrog. Ippolit with Sonya [84]. Conversation and tea. Stroll with Ippolit. Commotion on the main street. The old lady who lives with them; vint, supper, more vint and clowing about.
Wednesday 26 March/7 April 1886
26 марта. Дивная погода. С Соней (после телефонных переговоров) отправились в гавань. Агентство. Прогулка на Ипполитином пароходе. Капитан Иван Григорьевич и его лихорадка. Его пароход. Икра. Черепаха. Возвращенье. Обед. Ипполит повёз в сад, в Дубки (Тихон, прогулка пешком). Чай дома. С Соней в Соборе. Андреево стояние. Винт со старушкой. Ипполит, готовый ежеминутно на сцену. Ужин. Рассказы Ипполита о его похождениях. 26 March. Wondrous weather. We set off with Sonya (after telephone conversations) to the harbour. The agency. A tour on Ippolit's steamboat. Captain Ivan Grigoryevich and his fever. His steamboat. Caviar. Turtle Island. Return. Dinner. Ippolit took me to the garden at Dubki (Tikhon, a stroll on foot). Tea at home. With Sonya to the Cathedral. The Andreyev state [85]. Vint with the old lady. Ippolit was ready to cause a scene at any moment. Supper. Ippolit's tales about his adventures.
Thursday 27 March/8 April 1886
27 марта. Встал рано. Чай с Ипполитом. Простился с ним. С Соней на вокзал. Долгая история отъезда. Уезжаю под впечатлением особенной симпатии к Соне. Вдоль берега моря. Вдоль реки Синявки. Бравый отставной военный и его беседа о лошадях с козаком. Ростов. Красиво. Обед с Алёшей на станции. Кресельный вагон. Путеец и его не то супруга, не то любовница. Ужин в вагоне. Чтенье. Спать лёг рано. 27 March. Rose early. Tea with Ippolit. Parted from him. With Sonya to the ralway station. Disembarkation took a long time. I leave with especially kind feelings towards Sonya. Along the seashore. Along the Sinyavka river. A dashing retired soldier and his conversation with a Cossack about horses. Rostov. A pleasant sight. Dinner with Alyosha in the station. Seats in the railway carriage. A traveller accompanied either by his wife or his mistress. Supper in the carriage. Reading. Went to bed early.
Friday 28 March/9 April 1886
28 марта. Владикавказ. Ст[анция] Минеральные воды. Перешёл было в вагон прямого сообщения, но оказалось, что нужно сесть на прежнее место. Татарка. Несимпатичный даровой пассажир. Поляк. Неудобно и жарко. Горы. Тащились до бесконечности. Типичные фигуры татар и вообще туземцев. Дивная погода. Эльбрус. Небесное явление в вагоне 3-го класса, в бурке. Владикавказ. Плохая гостиница. Послал армянина-комиссионера на почту. Пошёл обедать. Комиссионер пришёл объявить, что коляска будет лишь в Воскресенье. Огорчение. Генерал-балагур. Жандарм и девица. Жид-хозяин. Прогулка с Алёшей по бульвару. Один. Дома. Раздражаюсь. Чай. А все-таки одиночество лучше. Алексей поехал со мной, по всему видно, ради аферы, а вовсе не по тем чувствительным мотивам, в которые я сдуру поверил было. 28 March. Vladikavkaz. Mineral Waters Station. I was transferring to a railway carriage with a direct connection, but it turned out that I had to stay in the same place. A Tartar woman. An unpleasant non-paying passenger. A Pole. Uncomfortable and hot. Mountains. We climbed endlessly. The typical figures of Tartars and the native population generally. Wondrous weather. Elbrus [86]. A heavenly vision in a cloak in the 3rd-class carriage. Vladikavkaz. Poor hotel. Sent an Armenian commission agent to the post office. Went to have dinner. The commission agent came to explain that a barouche would be available only on Sunday. Disappointment. A witty general. A gendarme and a girl. The Jew who owns the hotel. Stroll along the boulevard with Alyosha. Alone. Home. Feeling irritable. Tea. Still, solitude is better. It would appear that Aleksey has accompanied me for the sake of some business affairs, and not at all for sentimental reasons, as I'd foolishly believed.
Saturday 29 March/10 April 1886
29 м[арта]. Погода великолепная. Горы видно ясно. После чая и устройства дела с коляской на завтра, я пошёл гулять в самом лучшем настроении. Попал в церковь к обедне с причётниками. Дебют диакона. Он конфузился, терялся, решительно не знал, что ему делать. Было жаль и странно, но и смешно. Старик батюшка с носовым звуком. Причётник-армянин. Вообще вынес сильное впечатление от новизны обстановки в этой литургии. Дома писал письма. Завтракали с Алёшей в гостиной (!!!). Ходил один по шоссе по направлению к горам. Русские дети. На возвратном пути сцена несчастной, избиваемой лошади. Встретился на бульваре с Алёшей, который забыл передать мне ключ, и, вернувшись в гостиницу, я не мог попасть в свой номер. Пришлось идти из дому. Нанял фаэтон и поехал по шоссе к маленькому укреплению у впадения речки (не помню название) в Терек. Дорогой симпатичный извощик-Саратовец рассказывал мне много интересных вещей относительно здешней этнографии, или, как он выражался, «про разных религиев». Эта двухчасовая прогулка была очень приятна. Дома застал Алексея в особенно весёлом настроении духа. С ним обедал. Его весёлость скоро сделалась несносной, ибо он или глупо спорил, или глупо хохотал неизвестно чему. Расстроил меня совершенно. Походили по бульвару и посидели. Ещё хуже. Отправил его. А когда возвратился, он уже лежал и сообщил мне, что у него опять... болит. Окончательно расстроен. О, Господи!.. 29 March. The weather is magnificent. A clear view of the mountains. After tea and arranging matters for the barouche tomorrow, I set off for a walk in the best of moods. Called in at the church for mass with the communicants. The Deacon's début. He was confused, lost his place, and absolutely did not know what to do. Sorry and strange as it was, it was also comical. The ageing reverend with a nasal twang. The Armenian churchman. I could not help but be struck by the novel circumstances of this liturgy. At home I wrote letters [87]. Lunch with Alyosha in the hotel (!!!). I walked alone along the high road in the direction of the mountains. Russian children. On the way back the pitiful scene of a slaughtered horse. On the boulevard I met Alyosha, who forgot to give me the key, and, returning to the hotel, I could not enter my room, and had to go out again. I hired a phaeton and travelled along the high road to a little stronghold where the river (I forget its name) flows into the Terek. On the way a charming cabman from Saratov, he told me many interesting things about the local ethnography, or, as he put it, "about the various religions". This two-hour trip was very pleasant. At home I found Alyosha in particularly cheerful spirits. I had dinner with him. His cheerfulness soon became intolerable, because he either argued or guffawed stupidly for some unknown reason. He upset me completely. We walked along the boulevard and sat down. That was even worse. I sent him away. When I returned he was already laying down, telling me that he has pain in his […] again [88]. This is utterly dreadful. Oh Lord!...
Sunday 30 March/11 April 1886
30 марта. Млеты. Последняя ночь в гостинице Франция была ужасна. Постель невозможная, блохи кусали немилосердно, тоска и отвращение душили меня. В 6 час[ов] встали. В 7 явился симпатичный кондуктор. Сборы. Начали. Выехали в 8-м часу. Первая ст[анция] Болта,—переезд 12 верст. Кондуктор оказывается невероятно молчалив, именно такой, какого мне нужно. Ямщик едва отвечал на 2 мои вопроса. Далее было все то же самое, т. е. как кондуктор, так и ямщик казались немыми. Вот что я люблю в путешествии. Несносная болтовня какого-нибудь Неаполитанского гида, ничего не зная. Погода была чудная. Чем дальше, тем становилось красивее, интереснее и холоднее. После Ларса (2-я станция) началось знаменитое Дарьяльское ущелье, с замком Тамары, бешено мятущимся Тереком и т. д. На Казбеке легко пообедал. Тут пришлось надеть шубы, ибо мы очутились в области снега. Вообще вся эта дорога напоминает мне дорогу в Давос. После Коби мы поднялись невероятно высоко, благополучно переехали место, где недавно завал был и где работали какие-то восточные индигены с очками или черными тряпками на лице, и после Годоура стремительно спустились в Млеты. Дорога дивная. Здесь нам дали 2 царских комнаты, на вид необычайно симпатичные и чистые, и я, после Владикавказской мерзости, почувствовал себя очень приятно. Заказал обед. В ожидании его ходил по балкону (верёвки). (Видел, как попутчики наши: офицер, жена его в офицер[ском] пальто и баба-кухарка—продолжали героически путь на перекладной.) Подали мне обед, очень простой и вкусный. Пили с Алексеем чай. Балагур слуга-имеретин с характерным восточным выговором. Англичанин. Дама. Лёг спать в 9. 30 March. Mlety. My last night in the France Hotel was awful. The bed was impossible, the fleas were biting mercilessly, and I was choked with anguish and revulsion. We rose at 6 o'clock. At 7 a charming conductor. Gratuities. We started off, leaving at 8 o'clock. The first station was Bolta, a journey of 12 versts. The conductor was incredibly taciturn, just the kind of fellow I need. The cabman barely answered the 2 questions I put to him. Further on everything was just the same, i.e. both guard and cabman were seemingly mute. That is just how I like to travel. The intolerable gabbling of some Neapolitan guide or other who did not know a thing. The weather was wonderful. The further we went the more beautiful, the more interesting and colder it became. After Lars (the 2nd station) the famous Daryal Gorge began with Tamara's castle, and the furiously turbulent Terek, etc. At Kazbek I had a light dinner. After that I had to put on my fur coat because we were in a snowy region All this generally reminded me of the road into Davos. After Kobi we ascended to an improbable height, safely passing the spot where there had recently been an avalanche, and where some Oriental natives were working with spectacles or black rags on their faces, and after Godour we descended sharply into Mlety. The route was wondrous. We were given 2 stately rooms, which looked to be exceptionally pleasant and clean, and after the wretchedness of Vladikavkaz, I felt very content. I ordered dinner. Whilst waiting for it, I walked along the balcony (ropes). (I observed our fellow travellers—an officer, his wife wearing his officer's coat, and their kitchen maid—continuing the journey heroically on post-horses.) I was served a dinner which was very simple and tasty. I drank tea with Aleksey. A witty Imeretian servant with his characteristic eastern accent. An Englishman. A lady. Went to bed at 9.
Monday 31 March/12 April 1886
31 марта. Спал хорошо. Встал в 6; уехали в 7½. Всю дорогу я глубоко наслаждался. Пассанаур (внизу; церковь; могила Коли Тихменева). Спуск к Душету изумительный. Погода, езда, все было хорошо. Только еда в Душете плохая. В Мцхет приехали в 1½. По уговору я должен был ждать Паню и Толю, но очень испугался бесконечного ожидания и решил ехать на лошадях. Приехавши в Тифлис, узнал, что они поехали! Оделся. Чай. Разговоры с няней. Татуся очень понравилась. Съездил погулять в город. Вскоре после моего возвращения они приехали. Беседа. Ужин. Пьянство слуг. В общем Тифлис мне очень нравится, и увидать своих было в высшей степени приятно. 31 March. I slept well. Rose at 6; we departed at 7.30. Thoroughly enjoyed the entire journey. Passanaur (down below, the church and the grave of Tolya Tikhmenev). Stunning descent to Dushet. The weather was fine for the whole journey. Only the food in Dushet was poor. We arrived in Mtskhet at 1.30. It had been arranged that I should wait for Panya and Tolya [89], but I was afraid that I might have to wait interminably, and decided to go on horses. On arriving in Tiflis, I found out that they had already set out! I dressed. Tea. Chatter with the nanny. I liked Tatusya very much. I went off to explore the town. Soon after my return they arrived. Conversation. Supper. Drunken servants. In general I like Tiflis a great deal, and to see my own family affords me the utmost pleasure.

Notes and References

  1. Anton Rubinstein's opera Néron (Nero) was written between 1875 and 1877 to a French libretto by Jules Barbier, although it had received its Russian premiere in an Italian translation in 1884 at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg.
  2. The Russian businessman, politician, art collector and philanthropist Sergey Mikhaylovich Tretyakov (1834-1892).
  3. The conductor Max Erdmannsdörfer (1848-1905) was the principal conductor of the Russian Musical Society concerts in Moscow, where he was preparing to conduct the premiere of Tchaikovsky's symphony Manfred on 11/23 March 1886.
  4. Nikolay Hubert (1840-1888) and his wife Aleksandra (b. Batalina, 1850-1937), good friends of Tchaikovsky's who were both accomplished pianists and had taught at the Moscow Conservatory.
  5. Nikolay Sergeyevich Zverev (1832-1893), pianist and professor at the Moscow Conservatory from 1870 to 1893.
  6. Sergey Mikhailovich Remezov (b. 1854), instructor at the Moscow Conservatory from 1881.
  7. Pyotr Jurgenson, the composer's publisher in Moscow.
  8. A well-known restaurant in Moscow owned by Aleksey Dmitriyevich Lopashov (b. 1841).
  9. Ippolit Karlovich Altani (1846-1919), principal conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
  10. Karl Albrecht (1836-1893), cellist, teacher, and a friend of the composer since the 1860s.
  11. The third movement of Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony, entitled Pastorale, employs a bell, which is described in the score as "… of medium size and tuned to A. If possible, it should not be placed in the concert hall, but in the closest adjoining room".
  12. Presumably the name of an inn or hotel.
  13. Albert Kristianovich Repman (1835-1918), a doctor, chemist, physicist and tutor, who during the 1880s was state secretary to the Russian Empress Mariya Fyodorovna.
  14. The Cathedral of the Assumption in Moscow.
  15. A special Russian Musical Society concert at the Assembly of the Nobility given by students of the Moscow Conservatory, conducted by Sergey Taneyev. The programme included Paul Pabst's paraphrase on Tchaikovsky's opera Mazepa (performed by Yelizaveta Magnitskaya), the Overture for Orchestra by Georgy Konyus, and works by Bach, Gluck, Vieuxtemps, Mozart, Schumann, Anton Rubinstein, Liszt and Beethoven.
  16. Nikolay Aleksandrovich Alekseyev (1852-1893), elected mayor of Moscow from 1885, and a director of the Russian Musical Society in the city.
  17. Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavsky (b. Alekseyev, 1863-1938), an actor at the Maly Theatre in Moscow, who would later become one of the leading theatre directors of his generation.
  18. "S. I." probably refers to Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev (1856-1915), the composer and professor at the Moscow Conservatory, rather than Sofiya Ivanovna Jurgenson (b. Sots, 1840-1911), wife of the composer's publisher Pyotr Jurgenson, as some previous editors of Tchaikovsky's diaries have suggested.
  19. See Letter 2906 and Letter 2907 to Aleksandra Snegireva-Jurgenson of this date.
  20. Yelena Sergeyevna Tolstaya (b. Denisenko, 1863-1942), tutor to Pyotr Jurgenson's children, and a niece of Count Lev Tolstoy. No letters to her from Tchaikovsky have survived.
  21. Ivan Petrovich Popov, a senior member of the Russian Choral Society in Moscow.
  22. "Batasha" was Tchaikovsky's pet-name for Nikolay Hubert's wife, Aleksandra Hubert (née Batalina), to whom the composer had written on 19 February/3 March 1886 (see Letter 2892).
  23. Aleksandr Nikolayevich Gudim-Levkovich, a friend of Tchaikovsky's whose family were landowners in the Kiev province.
  24. See Letter 2908 to Nikolay Hubert and Aleksandra Hubert, Letter 2909 to Aleksandr Ostrovsky, and Letter 2910 to Yuliya Shpazhinskaya of this date.
  25. Vonifaty (Boniface) or "Votya" Sangursky, a boy from Kamenka and Tchaikovsky's protegé. The composer took much interest in his education and sent him to study painting at the Art school in Moscow. Later Vonifaty became a teacher of drawing. Some of his paintings are preserved in the Tchaikovsky House-Museum at Klin.
  26. The Patrikeyev restaurant in central Moscow.
  27. Tchaikovsky's godson Boris Petrovich Jurgenson (1868-1935), son of the composer's publisher Pyotr Jurgenson and his wife Sofiya.
  28. Nikolay Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov (1850-1929), a Russian artist who in 1893 would paint a famous portrait of Tchaikovsky.
  29. Bogomir Bogomirovich Korsov (b. Gottfried Göring, 1843-1920), Russian baritone and opera artist who in Moscow had In premièred the roles of Vyazminsky in The Oprichnik (1878) and the title role in Mazepa (1884).
  30. Andrey Fyodorovich Arends (1855-1924), Russian conductor, violinist and composer of German extraction, also known outside Russia as Heinrich Arends.
  31. Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Ilyinsky (1859-1920), Russian composer and music teacher.
  32. Yekaterina Ivanovna Sinelnikova (d. 1904), a close friend of Tchaikovsky's, who in 1889 would marry the critic Herman Laroche (1845-1904), another a close friend of the composer.
  33. M. F. Ushakov was a director of the Russian Musical Society in Moscow.
  34. The Slavyansky Bazaar Hotel in Moscow.
  35. The eleventh RMS symphony concert in Moscow, dedicated to the memory of Nikolay Rubinstein, which included the first performance of Tchaikovsky's Manfred symphony, conducted by Max Erdmannsdörfer.
  36. The Kokorevka (Kokorevskaya) Hotel on the Sofia Embanment in Moscow was built in 1860 by the entrepreneur Vasily Aleksandrovich Kokorev (1817-1889).
  37. Yuliya Petrovna (b. Porokhontseva, ca. 1850-1919), wife of the dramatist Ippolit Vasilyevich Shpazhinsky (1848-1917). Shpazhinsky had provided Tchaikovsky with the libretto for the opera The Enchantress, based on his own drama of the same (1884).
  38. Anna von Meck (b. Davydova, 1864-1942) was Tchaikovsky's niece, who in 1884 had married Nikolay von Meck (1863-1929), the son of the composer's benefactress Nadezhda von Meck.
  39. Lev Vasilyevich Davydov (1836-1896), husband of the composer's sister Aleksandra.
  40. Nikolay Osipovich Khristoforov (1836-1892), director of the central music library of the Imperial Theatres from 1877.
  41. A neighbour of Tchaikovsky's in the village of Maydanovo, near Klin.
  42. A wry observation directed at Mikhail Sofronov (1848-1932), brother of Tchaikovsky's manservant Aleksey.
  43. Only three letters written by Tchaikovsky on this date are known: Letter 2912 to Mily Balakirev; Letter 2913 to Nadezhda von Meck; and Letter 2914 to Praskovya Tchaikovskaya.
  44. Album du Gaulois. Prime 1885 was published at the end of 1884 by the French newspaper Gaulois, and contained contributions by 61 different composers, including Tchaikovsky's Impromptu-Caprice for piano. A copy of this album is still preserved in the composer's house-museum at Klin.
  45. "Novichikha" was Tchaikovsky's pet-name for Nadezhda Vasilyevna Navikova, the owner of the house he was renting at Maydanovo.
  46. The composer Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908).
  47. Aleksandr Ivanovich Rubets (1838-1913), music theorist and professor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory.
  48. Possibly Fyodor Antonovich Tur (1866-1942), state counsellor and assistant professor at Saint Petersburg University.
  49. Hans von Bülow (1830-1894), German conductor, pianist and composer, who had given the premiere of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1875.
  50. Marie von Bülow (b. Schanzer, 1857-1941), German actress who married Hans von Bülow in 1882.
  51. Aleksandr Konstantinovich Glazunov (1865-1936), composer and conductor.
  52. Tchaikovsky's nephew, Vladimir Davydov (1871-1906), whom he called "Bob".
  53. Nikolay Germanovich Konradi (1868-1922), pupil of Tchaikovsky's brother Modest.
  54. Saint Isaac's Cathedral (Исаакиевский Собор).
  55. Iosif Yakovlevich Setov (b. Josef Sethofer, 1826-1894), Russian tenor, director, teacher and impresario.
  56. The composer's sister, Aleksandra Davydova (1842-1891).
  57. Tchaikovsky's niece, Vera Rimskaya-Korsakova (b. Davydova, 1863-1888).
  58. La doctoresse, a comedy in 3 acts by Paul Ferrier (1843-1920) and Henri Bocage (1835-1917), was first performed in Paris in 1885.
  59. "Annette" was Tchaikovsky's pet-name for his cousin Anna Merkling.
  60. Aleksey Nikolayevich Apukhtin (1840-1893), Russian poet and schoolfriend of Tchaikovsky's.
  61. The French dramatic actor Lucien Guitry (1860-1925).
  62. Brother of Tchaikovsky's publisher Pyotr Jurgenson, and owner of a music store in the Russian capital.
  63. Aleksandra Vladimirovna Bazilevskaya (b. Peresleni, 1862-1937), niece of the composer's brother-in-law, Lev Davydov.
  64. Vera Vasilyevna Butakova (1848-1923), Lev Davydov's sister.
  65. Tchaikovsky was friendly with the conductor Eduard Nápravník (1839-1916), his wife Olga (1844-1902), and their children Vladimir (1869–1948), Olga (1870–1920) and Varvara (1873–1942).
  66. Nikolay Dmitriyevich Kondratyev (1832-1887), lawyer and friend of the composer.
  67. Amliya Vasilyevna Litke (1841-1912), Tchaikovsky's first cousin.
  68. Palkin's restaurant on Nevsky Prospekt.
  69. Marie-Louis-Renée Delmas (b. de Pont-Jest, 1858–1902), actress and first wife of Lucien Guitry.
  70. Lev Bernardovich Bertenson (1850-1929), court physician in Saint Petersburg.
  71. Yuliya Fyodorovna Abaza (1830-1915), singer, musician, writer, and socialite.
  72. The Kazan Cathedral (Казанский кафедральный собор) on Nevsky Prospekt was completed in 1811.
  73. A liturgical service of the Russian Orthodox Church, traditionally celebrated on weekdays during Lent.
  74. A selection of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, entrées and snacks, traditionally served before the main course.
  75. Fyodor Vasilyevich Litke (1866-1912), daughter of the composer's cousin Amaliya Litke.
  76. The composer's brother Nikolay Tchaikovsky (1838-1911).
  77. Mariya Nikolayevna Klimentova-Muromtseva (1856-1946), soprano and singing teacher.
  78. A principal station on the railway line between Saint Petersburg and Moscow, on Tchaikovsky's way home to Maydanovo via Klin.
  79. Aleksey Sergeyevich Kiselyov (Kiselev), Governor of the Svenigorod district, and friend of Anton Chekhov.
  80. Mariya Nikolayevna Yermolova (1853-1928), Russian actress.
  81. The twelfth concert of the Russian Musical Society on this date, conducted by Max Erdmannsdörfer, included Ludwig van Beethoven's incidental music to Goethe's play Egmont, Op. 84 (1810), and Franz Liszt's Faust Symphony, S.108 (1857).
  82. Tchaikovsky had collaborated with Aleksandra Hubert to arrange his Manfred symphony for piano duet (4 hands). The composer Mily Balakirev had just sent Tchaikovsky some notes (now lost) concerning this arrangement, which presumably Tchaikovsky and Aleksandra Hubert were reviewing on this occasion.
  83. The Moscow Register (Московские ведомости) was a daily newspaper published between 1756 and 1917. Between 1863 and 1887 its editor was the conservative journailst Mikhail Nikiforovich Katkov (1818-1887).
  84. The composer's brother, Ippolit Tchaikovsky (1843-1927), lived in Taganrog, where he was principal at the city's naval school. In 1869 he had married Sofya Petrovna Nikonova (1843-1920), also known as "Sonya", and they had a ten-year-old daughter Natalya (1876-1970).
  85. A Russian Orthodox service celebrated during the fifth week of Lent.
  86. Mount Elbrus, a dormant volcano in the Caucasuses range, and the highest peak in Russia.
  87. Tchaikovsky is known to have written at least three letters on this date: Letter 2918 to Nadezhda von Meck, Letter 2919 to Modest Tchaikovsky, and Letter 2920 to Pyotr Jurgenson.
  88. This sentence was edited by Ippolit Tchaikovsky from the original 1923 publication of his brother's diary, but it was perhaps connected to the "scrotal hydrocele" that Aleksey had suffered from during the previous month (see entry for 9/21 February 1886).
  89. Tchaikovsky had arranged to meet his brother Anatoly ("Tolya") and his sister-in-law Praskovya ("Panya"), who lived in Tiflis. They had a 3-year-old daughter, Tatyana, whom the composer called "Tatusya".