Letter 2008

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 15/27 April 1882
Addressed to Adolph Brodsky
Where written Moscow
Language Russian
Autograph Location Manchester (England): Royal Northern College of Music, The Library
Publication Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 2 (1901), p. 528–529 (abridged)
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XI (1966), p. 104
Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 111–112

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Москва, 15-го апреля.

Добрейший Адольф Давидович!

Получил вчера вечером письмо Ваше и прочёл его с невыразимым удовольствием. Уж не знаю, как и благодарить Вас за отеческие попечения о моём концерте! Дай Бог только, чтобы этот несчастный концерт, имеющий свойство внушать к себе неодолимое предубеждение, не помешал Вашим успехам. Я не хочу лгать и скажу Вам откровенно, что моему авторскому интересу весьма желательно, чтобы такой чудесный скрипач, как Вы, проводил его в публику, — но, ей-Богу, мне было бы крайне горестно узнать, что из-за него Вы терпите неудачи и газетную брань. Спасибо Вам, голубчик, за Ваше дружеское расположение к моей музыке и ко мне. Поверьте, что я очень, очень ценю это, и хотя никогда не вращаюсь среди общества заграничных музыкантов, отлично понимаю, сколько препятствий, затруднений и борьбы с закоренелыми предубеждениями Вы переносите из-за меня.

Я приехал в Москву на несколько дней, но сижу здесь уже три недели, и Бог знает, когда освобожусь. Меня задерживают здесь разные корректуры, которых набралось так много, что не предвижу, когда с ними разделаюсь. Я редактирую Полное собрание сочинений Бортнянского, которое предпринял Юргенсон. Так как щедрый П[етр] И[ванович] превосходно оплачивает мой редакторский труд, то жаловаться не следовало бы, но сочинения Бортнянского так бедны содержанием, их так много и так они однообразны, что по временам я прихожу в глубокое отчаяние! Кроме того, вообще, Москва (которую я люблю, но какой-то болезненной любовью) производит на меня тягостное впечатление. Столько людей из числа тех, с которыми я жил в дружеских отношениях, исчезли, а те, которые остались, так состарились! Грустно! Хочется поскорее в деревню. Говорят, что Вас приглашают играть здесь во время выставки; быть может, я приеду послушать Вас. Выставка обещает быть интересной, и нужно будет приехать взглянуть на неё.

Буду ждать от Вас письмеца в Каменку. От всей души желаю Вам всякого успеха, милый друг, и ещё, и ещё, и ещё благодарю Вас за Вашу дружбу. Супруге Вашей передайте мои приветствия.

Ваш П. Чайковский

Moscow, 15th April

I received your letter yesterday and read it with indescribable delight. I just don't know how to thank you for your paternal solicitude on behalf of my concerto! Would God only that this ill-fated concerto, which has the property of instilling in people an insurmountable prejudice against itself, does not hamper your successes [1]. I do not want to lie and so I shall tell you frankly that as far as my authorial interests are concerned, it is highly desirable that such a wonderful violinist as you should present it to the public. But, truly, it would be extremely saddening for me to find out that because of it you have to put up with setbacks and abuse in the newspapers [2]. Thank you, golubchik, for your friendly disposition towards my music and towards me. Believe me: I appreciate this very, very much, and although I never frequent the company of foreign musicians, I understand full well how many obstacles and complications, and how much of a struggle with deep-rooted prejudices, you are enduring on my account.

I came to Moscow just to stay for a few days, but now I have already been stuck here for three weeks, and God knows when I shall become free. I am detained here by the need to go over various proofs, of which so many have accumulated that I cannot foresee when I shall be through with them. I am editing Bortnyansky's Complete Works for an edition undertaken by Jurgenson. Since the generous Pyotr Ivanovich is paying me magnificently for my editorial work, I shouldn't be complaining, but Bortnyansky's works are so poor in content, there are so many of them and so monotonous are they, that from time to time I sink into profound despair! Moreover, Moscow (a city which I love, though with a kind of painful love) is on the whole making a grievous impression on me. So many people from among those with whom I was on friendly terms when I lived here have disappeared, and those who are left have so aged! It is sad! I want to leave for the country as soon as possible. I have heard that you are being invited to play here during the Exhibition. Perhaps I shall come to hear you. The Exhibition promises to be interesting, and I shall have to come and take a look at it [3]

I shall be expecting a little letter from you addressed to Kamenka. With all my heart I wish you every possible success, dear friend, and I thank you again and again and again for your friendship. Give my greetings to your wife.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. In a letter from London on 8/20 April 1882 Adolph Brodsky informed Tchaikovsky that he had recently played the Violin Concerto at a small musical gathering in the house of the impresario Herman Franke (who had settled in England some eight years earlier and had established, in 1879, a series of "Orchestral Festival Concerts" at the St. James's Hall conducted by Hans Richter, which were also known as "Richter Concerts"), and that the concerto had made such an impression on everyone present that Franke, who had previously told Brodsky that there was no slot available for him to play in London that season, had immediately decided to change the programme of the forthcoming "Richter concert" on 8 May 1882 [N.S.] and to engage Brodsky to perform Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto on that date. Brodsky's letter has been published in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 109–111.
  2. In his letter of 8/20 April 1882 Brodsky had written that on 8 May 1882 [N.S.], the date that he was scheduled to play the Violin Concerto at the St. James's Hall, the first production in England of Wagner's Ring cycle was due to open at Covent Garden, and that all the critics would probably be going to the opera-house. However, he added that some newspapers were likely to have "deputy critics" whom they would dispatch to the St. James's Hall concert all the same. "Perhaps London also has its very own Hanslick," Brodsky noted, "and in that case we may hope that his substitute doesn't turn out to be such a swine". Brodsky was here alluding to Eduard Hanslick's notorious review when Violin Concerto was introduced to Vienna on 22 November/4 December 1882, in which that influential critic had dismissed most of the concerto as "stinking music". See Letter 1924 to Brodsky, 1/13 January 1882, and the accompanying notes.
  3. The Musical Committee of the All-Russian Arts and Industrial Exhibition in Moscow invited Brodsky to perform at one of the concerts held under its auspices that summer. Brodsky accepted the invitation, and on 8/20 August 1882, as part of the Exhibition's sixth concert conducted by Ippolit Altani, he gave the first performance in Russia of the Violin Concerto. Tchaikovsky was present, and after the performance of his concerto he was called out onto the podium several times.