Letter 1332a

Date 12/24 November 1879
Addressed to Anna Fernow
Where written Berlin
Language French
Autograph Location Tokyo (Japan): Maeda Ikutokukai collection [1]
Publication Čajkovskijs Homosexualität und sein Tod. Legenden und Wirklichkeit (1998), p. 188–189 (summary, in German)
П. И. Чайковский. Забытое и новое, вып. 2 (2003), p. 349 (Russian translation only)
Notes Photocopy in Klin (Russia): Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve [2]

Text and Translation

French text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
24 Nov[embre] 1879


Permettez moi de Vous remercier bien sincèrement pour le charmant tableau que Vous avez eu l'extrême bonté de me faire remettre par notre ami commun. Je suis heureux de ce que mon œuvre a eu la chance de Vous inspirer la délicieuse toile qui sera dorénavant l'ornament principal de ma modeste demeure. Puissiez Vous aussi rarement que possible goûter le charme quoique doux mais triste de la mèlancolie et la joie puisse[-]t-elle toujours règner dans Votre cœur sans aucun mèlange. C'est le vœu de Votre serviteur dèvoué et reconnaissant.

P. Tschaikovsky

24 November 1879


Allow me to thank you most sincerely for the charming painting [3] which you were so extremely kind as to have conveyed to me through our mutual friend [4]. I am glad that my work [5] had the good fortune to inspire you to create the delightful canvas that shall henceforth be the chief adornment of my humble abode. May you experience as rarely as possible the sweet but sad charm of melancholy, and may joy always reign unalloyed in your heart. Such is the wish of your devoted and grateful servant.

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. This letter was bought at an auction in London in the late 1920s by the Japanese military attaché, Marquess Toshinari Maeda (1885–1942), together with letters by various other composers (Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Haydn and Wagner), as well as a number of musical autographs (by Bach, Beethoven, Massenet, Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Schubert). All these autographs from his private collection are now part of the holdings of the Maeda Ikutokukai collection in Komaba, Meguro, Tokkyo, which is not generally open to the public but can be accessed by researchers on request. Information based on Чайковский и семья Фернов. История одной картины и неизвестного письмо композитора (2003), p. 349). We are grateful to Mr Kamomeno Iwao in Japan for some corrections in the spelling of Maeda's name as well as his exact titles.
  2. This photocopy was presented to the Tchaikovsky House-Museum by a Japanese television producer, Mr Ogitani, who in 1994 came to Klin to work on a programme on Tchaikovsky for Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK). See Чайковский и семья Фернов. История одной картины и неизвестного письмо композитора (2003), p. 349. A scan of this photocopy was kindly provided by Dr Vaidman for publication of the letter's original text on this website.
  3. The painting Melancholy (Mélancolie) which to this day hangs in the composer's bedroom in his house at Klin.
  4. As Polina Vaidman has established, Iosif Kotek was the "mutual friend" who arranged for Tchaikovsky to receive the painting which Anna Fernow had painted for him. In a letter to Tchaikovsky from Berlin in July 1879, which has survived in the archive at Klin, Kotek had written: "Tell me, my friend, did you receive Mlle Fernow's painting? I told them [the Fernows] off the top of my head that you had received it and that you were very grateful". It is not clear, however, whether Tchaikovsky, who spent that summer mainly in Kamenka and Simaki, received it at the time. At any rate, as the above letter shows, it was not until four months later, during his brief stay in Berlin before travelling on to Paris, that he thanked Anna Fernow for her present. See Чайковский и семья Фернов. История одной картины и неизвестного письмо композитора (2003), p. 350–353.
  5. At present it is only possible to speculate as to which work of Tchaikovsky's inspired Anna Fernow to paint Melancholy (it may also have been his music in general, since 'œuvre' in French can refer both to a specific work and to a composer's whole output).