Letter 1229a

Date 10/22 July 1879
Addressed to Meyers Konversations-Lexikon (editors of)
Where written Kamenka
Language French
Autograph Location unknown [1]
Publication Tschaikowsky-Gesellschaft Mitteilungen, Heft 21/1 (2015), p. 142

Text and Translation

This incomplete text is based on the extract and facsimile published in Stargardt's 1990 auction catalogue [2] (lacking the conclusion), which may contain differences in formatting and content from Tchaikovsky's original letter.

French text
(original)
English translation
By Cristina Niculescu
Kamionka
Le 22 Juillet 1879

Monsieur!

Tout en Vous remerciant infinimment pour l'honneur que Vous voulez bien me faire de placer mon humble nom dans Votre célèbre dictionnaire, j'ai hâte de Vous envoyer la notice biographique que Vous voulez bien me demander.


Pierre Tschaikovsky

Né le 25 Décembre 1840 en Russie, au gouvernement de Perm, usine de la couronne Votkinsk, ou son père, ingénieur des mines etait directeur. Dès l'age le plus tendre marqua une disposition décisive pour la musique. En 1850 il fût placé à l'École des droits de St. Petersbourg. En 1859 entra au ministère de la Justice où, pendant 3 ans il servit dans les bureaux. En 1862, son penchant pour la musique le décida à prendre sa démission et entrer au Conservatoire qui venait d'être fondé par Rubinstein. En 1866 fût engagé comme professeur d'harmonie et d'instrumentation au Conservatoire Impérial de Moscou ou il resta jusqu'en 1874. Pour des raisons de santé fut obligé de quitter cet emploi et jusqu'en ce moment vit dans la retracte tant à l'etranger en Italie et en Suisse, qu'en Russie.

Ses compositions les plus connues sont 4 operas (L'opritchnik, Le maréchal Ferrand, Onéguine, La vierge d'Orléans), 4 simphonies, plusieurs poèmes simphoniques (La Tempète, Roméo et Juliette, Francesca da Rimini), 3 quatuors pour instruments à cordes, deux concertos, des sonates pour piano et divers morceaux soit pour le piano, soit pour le violon et violoncelle.


Voila, Monsieur les quelques détails biographiques qui suffiront, je crois pour la modeste petite place, que je serai heureux de prendre dans Votre dictionnaire. [...]

Kamenka
22 July 1879

Sir!

With my infinite gratitude for the kind honour you wish to afford me of including my humble name in your famous dictionary, I am hastening to send you the biographical note that you requested.


Peter Tchaikovsky

Born on the 25th of December 1840 [3] in Russia, province of Perm [4], in the royal works at Votkinsk, where his father, a mining engineer, was the manager. From a most tender age he displayed a marked disposition towards music. In 1850 he was sent to the School of Jurisprudence in Saint Petersburg. In 1859 he entered the Ministry of Justice, where he served in the department for 3 years. In 1862 his penchant for music caused him to submit his resignation and to enter the Conservatory which had been recently founded by Rubinstein. In 1866 he was engaged as professor of harmony ans indstumentation at the Imperial Conservatory in Moscow, where he remained until 1874 [5]. For health reasons, he was forced to leave this post, and at present he he lives in seclusion abroad in Italy or Switzerland, as well as in Russia.

The best known of his compositions are 4 operas (The Oprichnik, Vakula the Smith, Onegin, The Maid of Orleans), 4 symphonies, several symphonic poems (The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Francesca da Rimini), 3 string quartets, two concertos, piano sonatas, and various other pieces either for piano or for violin or cello.


These, Sir, are the few biographical details which I believe will suffice for modest little place that I shall be pleased to take in your dictionary. [...]

Notes and References

  1. The autograph was auctioned in June 1990 by J. A. Stargardt, Berlin.
  2. See J. A. Stargardt, Autographen aus allen Gebieten. Katalog 647. Auktion am 27. und 28. Juni 1990 (Berlin, 1990), Lot 1009.
  3. This seems to have been a slip of the pen for 25 April 1840 [O.S.], which was Tchaikovsky's birthday according to the Russian calendar.
  4. The composer was again mistaken: Votkinsk was part of the Vyatka province of the Russian empire.
  5. Tchaikovsky gave up his teaching duties at the Moscow Conservatory after his marriage in the summer of 1877, although he briefly resume his post in September and October 1878, before finally submitting his resignation.