Karl Tavaststjerna

Russian civil servant of Finno-Swedish ancestry (d. after 1917), born Karl Avgustovich Tavastsherna (Карл Августович Тавастшерна)

A distant cousin of the Finnish writer Karl August Tavastsjerna (1860–1898) [1], he served in the Tsarist civil service, but was also an amateur artist and sculptor, and the organizer of a musical salon in Saint Petersburg. In 1914 he published a book entitled Music and Speech: A Study (Пение и речь: Очерк).

On 27 October/8 November 1883 Tavaststjerna sent Tchaikovsky a poem of his entitled Song of Triumphant Love (Песнь торжествующей любви), suggesting that the composer might wish to set it to music. Tchaikovsky replied on 8/20 November that he was occupied with other compositions, but hoped it would be possible to carry out this request at some time in the future [2]. Nothing came of this project, although in 1887 Tchaikovsky made sketches in connection with Ivan Turgenev's short story of the same name (see TH 227), which may possibly have inspired Tavaststjerna's poem.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

One letter from Tchaikovsky to Karl Tavaststjerna has survived, dating from 1883, and has been translated into English on this website:

One letter from Tavaststjerna to Tchaikovsky, also dating from 1883, is preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive.

Notes and References

  1. We are most grateful to Dr Ben Hellman of the University of Helsinki, who established that Tchaikovsky's correspondent was not in fact the Finnish writer (as had previously been believed).
  2. Letter 2385 to Karl Tavaststjerna, 8/20 November 1883.