Russian violinist, and friend of the composer (b. 25 October/6 November 1855 in Kamenets-Podolsk, Ukraine; d. 4 January 1885 [N.S.] in Davos), born Iosif Iosifovich Kotek (Иосиф Иосифович Котек), also known as Eduard Josef Kotek or Joseph Kotek.
Tchaikovsky and Kotek
The son of a Czech father and a Russian mother, Kotek enrolled in the Moscow Conservatory in 1871 and graduated in 1876, where he had studied violin under Ferdinand Laub and Jan Hřímalý, and music theory/composition under Tchaikovsky. In 1875, he had organized a string quartet with Stanisław Barcewicz, Andrey Arends and Anatoly Brandukov. Tchaikovsky had praised their first performance. On Nikolay Rubinstein's recommendation he was engaged by Nadezhda von Meck as her resident violinist. In 1877, Tchaikovsky dedicated his Valse-Scherzo for violin and orchestra to Kotek, who was also allowed to orchestrate the piece.
Tchaikovsky's private correspondence from around this time show that he was infatuated with Kotek. This was a "passion" which, he admitted in a letter to Modest on 19/31 January 1877, assailed him "with unimaginable force":
I have known him for six years already. I always liked him, and on several occasions I have felt a little bit in love with him. That was like a trial run for my love. Now I have momentum and have run right into him in the must decisive fashion. I cannot say that my love is completely pure. When he caresses me with his hand, when he lies with his head on my chest and I play with his hair and secretly kiss it, when for hours on end I hold his hand in my own and tire in the battle against the urge to fall at his feet and kiss these little feet ["little and exquisite" — Tchaikovsky's note], passion rages with me with unimaginable force, my voice shakes like that of a youth, and I speak some kind of nonsense. However I am far from desiring physical consummation. I feel that if that occurred I would cool to him. I would feel disgusted if this wonderful youth stooped to sex with an aged and fat-bellied man. How horrible this would be and how disgusting I would become to myself! It is not called for.
My only need is for him to know that I love him endlessly and for him to be a kind and indulgent despot and idol. It is impossible for me to hide my feelings for him, although I tried hard to do so at first. I saw that he noticed everything and understood me. But then can you imagine how artful I am in hiding my feelings? My habit of eating alive any beloved object always gives me away. Yesterday I gave myself away completely... I burst. I made a total confession of love, begging him not to be angry, not to feel constrained if I bore him, etc. All of these confessions were met with a thousand various small caresses, strokes on the shoulder, cheeks, and strokes across my head. I am incapable of expressing to you the full degree of bliss that I experienced by completely giving myself away.
I must tell you that yesterday was the eve of his departure for Kiev, where he is soon to give a concert. After my confession he suggested we travel out of town for supper. It was a delightful, moonlit night. I hired a carriage and we flew off. I cannot tell you the thousand details that caused me ineluctable bliss. I wrapped him up, hugged him, guarded him. He complained of the frost on the tip of his nose. I held the collar of his fur coat the whole time with my bare hand in order to warm this nose tip, so holy for me. The freezing of my hand caused me pain and, at the same time, the sweet thought of knowing that I was suffering for him... we went to Yar and suppered in a private room. After dining he felt sleepy and lay down on the sofa, using my knees for a pillow. Lord, what utter bliss this was! He tenderly ridiculed my expressions of affection and kept repeating that my love is not the same as that of [his boyfriend] Porubinovsky. Mine is supposedly selfish and impure. His love is selfless and pure. We spoke of the piece [Valse-Scherzo, Op. 34] he ordered from me... .
However, relations seem to have quickly cooled, and by May 1877 the composer reported to Modest:
You ask about my love? It is once again subdued almost to the point of absolute calm. And do you know why? You alone can understand this. Because two or three times I saw his injured finger in all of its ugliness! But without that I would be in love to the point of madness, which returns anew each time I'm able to forget somewhat about his crippled finger. I don't know whether this finger is for the better or worse? Sometimes it seems to me that Providence, so blind and unjust in the choice of its protégés, deigns to take care of me. Indeed, sometimes I start to think that some coincidences are not mere accidents... Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of a religiousness that, if it ever takes hold of me, will do so completely; that is, with Lenten oil, cotton-wool from the Iveron icon, etc.. I'm sending you a photograph of myself and Kotek together. It was taken at the very peak of my recent passion." 
Nevertheless, Kotek acted as a witness at Tchaikovsky's marriage to Antonina Milyukova in Moscow on 6/18 July 1877. When, predictably, the marriage quickly failed, the composer retreated abroad with his brothers, and he met Kotek in Vienna in November 1877, whose sympathetic role during the composer's matrimonial tribulations had greatly increased their mutual attachment. Since it was, moreover, Kotek who had helped fan Nadezhda von Meck's original interest in the composer, it was only natural that Tchaikovsky celebrated the young violinist's arrival in his letter to her of 23 November/5 December: "Our mutual friend Kotek is also here now, and seeing him was very pleasant for me. I have had many proofs of his most sincere friendship towards me, and last year we became very close. It seems to me there is a great deal of good in him, and he has a very, very kind heart. He was the first to teach me to love you, when I did not yet dream that someday I should call you my friend." .
By this time, however, relations between Kotek and Nadezhda von Meck had markedly cooled. To his credit, Tchaikovsky strove to repair the situation: "Kotek was planning to leave for Berlin this evening but he is feeling unwell, and I do not want to leave him on his own", he wrote to Nadezhda von Meck. "He has shown me so much boundless friendship that I cannot but repay him with the same. It would be very pleasant for me to expatiate in a letter to you sometime on this kind, lovely, and talented boy, but I confess that I am restrained by the fear of touching upon a subject of conversation perhaps unpleasant to you. Even now I do not know clearly what he is guilty of towards you, but from certain signs I conclude that apparently he does feel guilty. Meanwhile, I have grown very attached to him, and the thought that he may have done something to annoy you simply oppresses me. As for his attitude towards you, suffice it to say that even before I made your acquaintance, I already felt the warmest sympathy towards you as a result of everything he had told me about you. He has a very good heart and much sincerity. It is this sincerity, which often reaches a point where it becomes naivety, that I like most about him" .
The intercession was not successful. Nadezhda von Meck did not even react to this part of the letter. The cause behind Kotek's fall from grace had been his amorous adventures at the "court" of his patroness. In the composer's correspondence, we find several references to the younger man's philandering, which at times irritated even Tchaikovsky, who tended to be quite tolerant in such matters: "after performances [at the opera-house] Kotek goes running after whores, while I sit down at the Café in the open air" ; "what angers me particularly is this fondness for women, so utterly unprecedented in him" ; "he has become a desperate womanizer, and nothing but this subject interests him" .
Such a rakish way of life could never have suited Nadezhda von Meck, the mother of eleven children and surrounded, as she was, by a whole crowd of young women. Kotek, for all his charm, was also prone to nervous outbursts, something that, in conjunction with Tchaikovsky's stress and periodical bouts of misanthropy, would inevitably strain their relations. On 8/20 January 1878 Tchaikovsky wrote to Anatoly: "I have received a letter from Kotek which has angered me. He informs me about Nadezhda von Meck's cold reply to his letter and arrives at the conclusion that she is angry with him because of his syphilis. Then he starts speculating about who might have passed on this gossip to her, and do you know what conclusion he has reached? That the scandalmonger was none other than me!! This vexed me very much. I nevertheless replied to his letter immediately and concealed my anger, because I feel sorry for him" .
It is quite possible that one of the factors contributing to Nadezhda von Meck's increasingly hostile attitude to the young violinist was a certain subconscious jealousy, since he was one of the very few people who received such enthusiastic eulogies from her "inestimable Pyotr Ilyich" . Among the others whom he singled out for special praise, it made no sense to be jealous of his relatives or the deaf-mute boy Kolya Konradi, and it would probably have been beneath her sense of personal dignity to take offence at Tchaikovsky's attachment to his servant Alyosha.
Although it cannot be ruled out that Kotek, out of the kindness of his heart or for more materialistic considerations, may sometimes, despite his aggressive heterosexuality, have encouraged his former teacher's advances, in many ways their relations resembled far more those of father and son — from tenderness to irritability and clash of prides. In a characteristic passage from a letter to Anatoly of 8/20 January 1878, Tchaikovsky wrote: "You know what occurs to me? By living at another's expense, I am providing a bad example for Kotik" . And he very naively voiced this in one of his last letters:
If you are going to reproach me for having turned to Nadezhda von Meck [for money], then this is what I'd say to you: what about you, then?!!' I didn't like this phrase at all, nor the following one either: 'And so I am staying put in Berlin and will live on the 250 francs that I shall receive from that same person who gives you 1,500 francs.' That phrase somehow sounds strange, as if it were meant as a reproach! It's as if he wanted to say: that's a bit too much for you, isn't it?! On the whole, I really do not know whether he is right in deciding to remain abroad. I shall have to send for him and talk with him at length. It is so difficult now for me to give him advice. He asks me whether he should stay in Berlin to study with [Joseph] Joachim. Even if I felt that he should not, can I tell him so? Surely he would then answer that I say this because I begrudge him the money? 
Normally the composer would meet up with Kotek abroad, where the latter spent most of his time after graduating from the Moscow Conservatory. In Tchaikovsky's references to these meetings we frequently come across notes of frustration and irritation, so characteristic of his liability to sudden changes of mood, but these passages are immediately followed by manifestations of repentance and eulogies for the young man. In the general emotional balance of their relationship, sympathy and attachment clearly prevailed. "Kotik has come over from Berlin to join us", he wrote to Modest, "and the only reason I am not again madly in love is his disfigured finger. What a lovely, naive, sincere, tender, kind creature! He is a charming creature in the full sense of the word! He would only need to wear a glove on his sick finger all the time, and I would go crazy with love for him" . "After seeing you off", he told Anatoly, "Kotik and I went home on foot. He was so sad, spoke with such an ailing voice that I felt awkward about leaving him alone for the whole day." And further on in this letter: "I sincerely and agonizingly repent that I expressed to you misgivings about Kotek's financial circumstances. Yesterday I tried to behave in such a way as to spare him any painful feeling of being financially dependent on me. What a lovely and kind being this Kotik is!" . "I have sent Kotik a remittance for 300 marks, but it will hardly last him very long", he wrote to Anatoly a few days later, adding: "But then, dear Kotik is writing me letters every day" . And in another letter to Anatoly early in January 1878: "I have received a letter from Kotek in which he informs me that he has decided to stay in Berlin and enrol in Joachim's school. As for the question of money, he has made up his mind to write to Nadezhda von Meck and ask her to send him the hundred rubles she had granted to his sisters, since they do not need it now: one is ill, and the other is not musically gifted. He is very afraid that I shall get angry. I reassured him that this was not the case. Judging by certain of Nadezhda Filaretovna's hints about musicians whose parents were musicians, I have reason to believe that she will reluctantly grant his request, though God knows. She did not reply anything to my request for her opinion of Kotek" .
Kotek joined Tchaikovsky's party in early March 1878. "He has put on weight and grown a beard", the composer noted ruefully in his letter to Anatoly . Writing to him again on 6/18 March, Tchaikovsky implicitly compared the young violinist's financial dependence on him and others to his own dependence on Nadezhda von Meck: "Kotek often causes me to reflect. I am very fond of him, but differently now to how it was before. Moreover, in my heart of hearts I am not exactly angry at him, yet I find it somehow unpleasant that he is growing accustomed to living on other people's money. But I shall never dare to say this openly to him... On the other hand, I am moved by his love for me and value immensely his kind heart, his simplicity and naïveté. In short, various feelings with regard to him are struggling within me, as a result of which I am very affectionate, but no longer as before. He notices this and tells me so; this angers me because I cannot tell him the whole truth, nor do I wish to upset him. In short, there are moments when I am angry at myself and angry at him and the result of all this has been the sulks. Afterwards I feel ashamed of myself and I become exaggeratedly tender. But do not pay attention to this, and do not think that he is a burden to me. In the first place, I enjoy making music with him; in the second, he is essential for my violin concerto; in the third, I love him very, very much. He has the kindest and most tender of hearts, and his character is extremely comforting and pleasant" .
Here are a few more passages concerning the young violinist from other letters to Anatoly later that year:
- "Kotek is gloomy and taciturn all day long. My conscience is clear. I like him very much and am very affectionate with him, but he just can't bear the thought that I no longer want him. Anyway, he is a very nice person" .
- "I have received a desperate letter from Kotek. I don't know why my letters take so long to reach him. Because he hasn't been receiving any from me, he imagines that I hate him, despise him, etc. He has enrolled in Joachim's school . It is clear from everything he writes that he is depressed" .
- "Yesterday I received a huge letter from Kotek; he has finally received my letters and calmed down, so the tone of his letter is cheerful. It seems that he is starting to like the school, his new comrades, the attention he gets from Joachim, and so on. He flatly refuses [the offer of] money (I wouldn't have been able to send it to him now anyway). On the whole, this letter gave me great pleasure" .
- "Yesterday I received a long, sweet letter from Kotik. He is living in a country house near Berlin and is very satisfied. What a nice and dear creature this Kotik is!" .
So relaxed and light-hearted had Tchaikovsky grown in the company of his brother and friends in Clarens in the early spring of 1878 that one day, in a particularly good mood, he decided to "revive the past" as he had not done since his impromptu ballet with Saint-Saëns in 1875 and, as he wrote to Anatoly, "performed a grand pas de deux with Modest that was favoured with the loud approval of the spectators, that is, Kotek and Kolya" .
The initial idea to write a Violin Concerto belonged to Iosif Kotek, which was expressed in one of his letters to Tchaikovsky earlier that year. This time Kotek had brought a lot of sheet music with him, and Tchaikovsky would often make music with him in the evenings, playing four-handed piano arrangements or accompanying the young violinist on the piano. One of the first pieces they played through was the famous Symphonie espagnole for violin and orchestra by the French composer Édouard Lalo. Tchaikovsky liked the work and it probably served as the inspiration for his own composition in this genre, the Violin Concerto in D major, op. 35. Tchaikovsky became so engrossed in his idea for writing a violin concerto that for the time being he set everything else aside. "All morning I have been working on the violin concerto which I began yesterday", he informed Anatoly on 6/18 March. "I want to make use of the opportunity provided by Kotek being here. This will be a new and difficult project for me, but also an interesting one" . From the composer's letters it is clear that despite the novelty of the form, he made unexpectedly swift progress on the concerto.
Within five days he had already finished the first movement, and a few days later, on 14/26 March, he was able to inform Nadezhda von Meck that he had "reached the finale" and that the concerto "will soon be ready" . In a little more than two weeks the sketches for the work were completed. After playing through with Kotek what he had written, he was satisfied with the first movement and the finale, but decided to write a new Andante as the second movement. By the end of the month, with Kotek's help, the entire concerto was orchestrated and the young violinist was soon delighting Tchaikovsky and Modest with his playing of the new work. The composer even considered dedicating the concerto to his former pupil, but decided against it for fear that it might cause gossip. After some hesitation he opted in the end to dedicate the new work to the Hungarian violinist Leopold Auer, a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory whose fame he hoped would help ensure its success. It was with this dedication that the concerto was published by Jurgenson, but the scheduled first performance of the work by Auer in St. Petersburg on 10 March 1879 did not take place, because the famous violinist declared that the piece was too difficult and refused to play it. Tchaikovsky withdrew the original dedication and in the next edition of the concerto rededicated it to Adolph Brodsky, who had successfully performed the work in Vienna on 22 November/4 December 1881 (although it had already been performed in Hannover the previous year) .
Kotek's unexpected reluctance to perform the concerto in Saint Petersburg two weeks earlier led to cooling off in his relations with Tchaikovsky. When he was in Berlin in 1883, Tchaikovsky played with the idea of visiting Kotek, but decided against it, dreading the explanations, the mutual reproaches, and "the false note, which, alas, will always sound in my relations with him" .
In 1882, Kotek moved permanently to Berlin to continue study with Joseph Joachim, where he became a violin teacher at the Hochschule für Musik. However, in 1884 his health deteriorated due to tuberculosis. On hearing of his grave condition, Tchaikovsky travelled to see his old friend at Davos, Switzerland in autumn of 1884. After Saint Petersburg, Tchaikovsky had intended to travel to Moscow, but his plans were changed when news came to him that Iosif Kotek lay dying of tuberculosis in Switzerland. "I go abroad, and not to Moscow", Tchaikovsky wrote to Nadezhda von Meck on 28 October. His former pupil, he explained, had implored him to come to see him.
I had wanted to visit him on the way to Italy, in January, but the other day I learned that he is very ill, and, fearing not to find him still alive, I want to go directly there, so as afterwards not to be tormented by remorse for having failed to honour the wish of a dying man. Poor Kotek! Back in the summer I received a letter from him saying that he had consumption but that he hoped to recover completely since the illness had been arrested in time. I believed this, but it has turned out that, like all consumptives, he considers himself out of danger though death is close at hand. The other day, I saw a musician from here who had met Kotek in the Tyrol during the summer, and only from her did I find out the real truth. And at the same time a letter arrived from the poor invalid, who is living in utter solitude and begs me as a favour to come. I want and I have to go, though it is also very painful .
The journey to Switzerland took ten days and all the way he pondered on the suggestion which Balakirev had made at their meeting in Saint Petersburg, namely that he should write a symphony based on Byron's poetic drama Manfred, which tells the tale of the brooding Manfred wandering through the Alps and tormented by grief and remorse over the death of his beloved Astarte. "It so happens that I have to visit the Alpine peaks", Tchaikovsky wrote to Balakirev on 31 October, just before his departure from Russia, "and the conditions for a successful musical illustration of Manfred would indeed be very favourable were it not for the fact that I am travelling there to see a dying man. In any case, I promise you that I shall no matter what make every effort to fulfil your wish" .
Kotek awaited him in the health resort at Davos, in the mountains of eastern Switzerland. Tchaikovsky finally arrived in the town on 11/23 November, with a feeling of "great anxiety" because he was expecting to find "but a shadow of the former Kotek," as he later confessed to Modest:
My joy was boundless when it turned out that he had put on a lot of weight and had a splendid complexion; he appeared to be quite healthy," Tchaikovsky noted. "But it was only the semblance of good health. When he started talking, I saw that his chest was greatly damaged. Instead of a voice there was a kind of unpleasant wheezing, and also a constant cough of the most irritating kind. All the same, he chatted just as before, that is, non-stop, so I constantly had to urge him to quiet down and get some rest... He can walk all right but getting up costs him a great deal of effort... I feel terribly sorry for him .
After spending just six days in Davos, during which he and Kotek went to the theatre and visited some society friends, Tchaikovsky parted from the invalid. "I set off from Davos with a sense that I had acted splendidly in visiting poor Kotek", he wrote to Modest from Zurich on 18/30 November:
You cannot imagine how happy and cheerful he became. As for his health, the first impression was deceptive; his condition is very serious and during this week there were three terrible days when he just couldn't stop coughing (in the most nasty fashion) and utterly lost that horrible wheezing which has replaced his voice... I did everything I could for him: I visited his doctor secretly and asked for him to be sent to the Riviera if he should find Davos unsuitable; I gave Kotek some additional funds and in general rendered him moral and material aid and left Davos knowing that I had fulfilled the duty of friendship .
During his brief stay in Davos, Tchaikovsky had written to Balakirev: "I have read through Manfred and thought about it a lot, but have not yet started to plan the themes and form. Indeed, I am not going to rush this, though I do give you a firm promise that if I stay alive, I shall have written the symphony no later than by the summer" . While making his way down from the Alpine resort into the lowlands, "first in a cart", and then "in a normal stage-coach, with a compartment all to myself", Tchaikovsky "took great pleasure in the wild landscape of this mountain road" . The powerful emotional shock from this meeting with his hopelessly ill friend, the promise he had given Balakirev, and the demonic nature of the alpine peaks had begun to merge into sounds and melodies which were quite vague as yet but unrelentingly demanded to be given shape.
Recollections of his visit to Davos that winter to see the dying Kotek and of the snow-capped Alpine peaks, as well as the inner torments of Byron's hero, especially those linked to the death of Astarte, gradually rose before his mind's eye. The labour was difficult and exhausting, but he slowly found himself consumed by the new work. Indeed, so engrossed did he become in his new creation, and such an unexpected affinity did he find in the sombre figure of the proud, God-abandoned sufferer that he noted with wry humour that he himself had "turned for a time into a sort of Manfred" .
Kotek's condition continued to decline. Awaiting Tchaikovsky's arrival in Moscow was word from a Russian lady also living in Davos that Kotek had fallen ill with pneumonia and that it was essential that some relative come to look after him. There was little hope. "I need not tell you what a painful effect this news had on me", he wrote to Nadezhda von Meck on 18 December. "The awareness of my inability to give him any real assistance, the thought that he may perhaps be dying alone, surrounded by strangers — all this depresses me." Knowing that no one else could go, Tchaikovsky wondered whether he should go himself. "Perhaps I should, but I feel that I simply would not have enough courage to make this long journey again in order to watch the death throes of someone, still so young, on whom everything had just begun to smile, and who wants so much to live! I have sent a telegram and am waiting for news about the course of his illness" .
In the end, Tchaikovsky did not dare to visit Davos a second time, and a week later he learnt of the death of his friend, first from a telegram and then from a letter of 28 December 1884/9 January 1885 from Nadezhda von Meck, then staying in Vienna, who wrote laconically: "You probably already know, my dear friend, that Kotek passed away: we read it here in a German newspaper" .
Tchaikovsky answered her on the first day of the New Year. "On the very morning of Christmas Eve, I received a telegram about Kotek's death", he told her. "Besides the shock and deep sorrow that this news brought me, there also fell to me the painful duty of notifying the unhappy parents of the loss of their most beloved eldest son, who was already becoming a source of material support as well for the poor family." He went on: "All this would have made a crushing impression on me if it had not happened that, because of pressing need and a lack of good proof-readers, I was forced to do within a few days the proof-reading of my new suite myself. ... I was angry, indignant, ... grew utterly exhausted, but, on the other hand, had no time constantly to think and grieve about Kotek's death" . This oddly restrained reaction did not prevent Tchaikovsky from noting in his diary a year and a half later: "Kotek's letters. Tears" .
Nadezhda von Meck made no further mention of Kotek's death beyond her one dry remark, and she offered no expression of condolence. Fashioning for herself an opinion of him as a flippant and philandering young man, she had driven Kotek from her retinue and deprived him of even the most meagre support despite Tchaikovsky's repeated attempts at mediation. After his death, she refused Tchaikovsky's request that she help find employment for Kotek's brother-in-law, then in desperate straits. Infinitely obliging and gracious to her friend in all else, on the matter of Kotek — who had, after all, been the immediate initiator of her acquaintance with Tchaikovsky — she remained stubbornly deaf to his pleas. Her obduracy suggests even some unconscious jealousy. Out of all the persons whom she knew in Tchaikovsky's circle, only Kotek had enjoyed the composer's particular benevolence, and until his own estrangement from Kotek in 1881, Tchaikovsky had never tired of emphasizing his fondness for the young man.
Tchaikovsky's Valse-Scherzo for violin and orchestra, Op. 34, was dedicated to Iosif Kotek.
Correspondence with Tchaikovsky
One letter from Tchaikovsky to Iosif Kotek has survived, dating from 1882, and has been translated into English on this website:
150 letters from Kotek to Tchaikovsky, dating from 1877 to 1884, are preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive.
Notes and References
- Letter 538 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 19/31 January 1877.
- Letter 568 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 23 May/4 June 1877.
- Letter 659 to Nadezhda von Meck, 23 November/5 December 1877.
- Letter 659 to Nadezhda von Meck, 23 November/5 December 1877.
- Letter 1035 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 22 December 1878/3 January 1879.
- Letter 1036 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 23 December 1878/4 January 1879.
- Letter 1040 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 26 December 1878/7 January 1879.
- Letter 721 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 8/20–11/23 January 1878.
- Nadezhda von Meck used this word quite often in many letters to Tchaikovsky.
- "Kotik" = literally "kitten", Tchaikovsky's affectionate name for the violinist.
- Letter 662 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 27 November 1878/9 December 1877.
- Letter 662 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 27 November 1878/9 December 1877.
- Letter 663 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 1/13 December 1877.
- Letter 683 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 8/20-10/22 December 1877.
- Letter 715 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 1/13-4/16 January 1878.
- Letter 779 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 5/17 March–8/20 March 1878.
- Letter 779 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 5/17 March–8/20 March 1878.
- Letter 797 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 23 March/4 April–25 March/6 April 1878.
- The Royal Academy of Music in Berlin.
- Letter 819 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 27 April/9 May 1878.
- Letter 821 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 1/13 May 1878.
- Letter 890 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 8/20 August 1878.
- Letter 890 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 8/20 August 1878.
- Letter 779 to Anatoly Tchaikovsky, 5/17 March–8/20 March 1878.
- Letter 787 to Nadezhda von Meck, 14/26 March 1878.
- Although the composer and everyone involved in this Vienna performance seem to have believed this was the concerto's premiere, they were apparently unaware that it had already been performed in Hannover on 1/13 March 1880, by the concertmaster of the city's Hofkapelle, Georg Hänflein, conducted by Ernst Frank.
- Letter 2188 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 3/15 January 1883.
- Letter 2578 to Nadezhda von Meck, 28 October/9 November 1884.
- Letter 2580 to Mily Balakirev, 31 October/12 November 1884.
- Letter 2592 to Modest Tchaikovsky 12/24 November 1884.
- Letter 2599 to Modest Tchaikovsky, 18/30 November 1884.
- Letter 2594 to Mily Balakirev, 17/29 November 1884.
- Letter 2599 to Modest Tchaikovsky 18/30 November 1884.
- Letter 2745 to Nadezhda von Meck, 3/15 August–10/22 August 1885.
- Letter 2620 to Nadezhda von Meck, 18/30 December 1884.
- Letter from Nadezhda von Meck to Tchaikovsky, 28 December 1884/9 January 1885.
- Letter 2745 to Nadezhda von Meck, 1/13 January 1885.
- Diary entry for 27 July/8 August 1886.
- See Letter 2641 to Yevgeniya Zhukovskaya, 8/20 January 1885; Letter 2643a to Yuliya Chistyakova-Mikhalevskaya, 9/21 January 1885; Letter 3673a to Vyacheslav Kotek, 21 September/3 October 1888.