Letter 2512

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 30 June/12 July 1884
Addressed to Sergey Taneyev
Where written Grankino
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow: Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (ф. 880)
Publication Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 2 (1901), p. 648–649 (abridged)
Письма П. И. Чайковского и С. И. Танеева (1874-1893) [1916], p. 114–115
П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 107–108
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XII (1970), p. 397–398

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
30 июня 1884 г[ода]

Полт[авский. губ[ерния]
Константиноградский уезд,
почт[товая]. ст[анция]. Ново-Николаевка,
в Гранкино.

Милый Сергей Иванович!

Получил Ваше письмо. Хотя мне очень интересно было прочесть Ваше мнение о моих песенках, но я посетовал на Вас за то, что Вы ни слова не написали про себя, про свои занятия, про планы и проекты Ваши!

Всё, что Вы не одобряете в песенках, т. е. Ваши замечания насчёт конца «Легенды» и минорности, доведённой до излишества в песне о зиме, и т. д. — совершенно верны! Я, как водится, поторопился напечатанием; всё, что Вы говорите, я смутно чувствовал при переписке, и если бы показал Вам песенки до гравировки, то очень легко бы мог исправить указанные Вами недостатки. Нечего делать, — нужно отложить это до следующего издания, если оно когда-нибудь будет.

Я охотно сказал бы, что и похвальные Ваши отзывы совершенно верны, но скромность мешает мне подтверждать справедливость Вашей оценки. Итак, не скажу, что я согласен с Вами, но что я очень радуюсь Вашей похвале. Очень люблю, когда Вы меня хвалите.

Я пишу в настоящее время 3-ю сюиту. Хотел было симфонию сделать, — но не выгорело. Впрочем, не в названии дело, во всяком случае, я пишу большое симфоническое сочинение в 4-х частях, а именно: 1) Andante, 2) Ещё вальс, 3) Скерцо, 4) Тема с 12 вариациями. Вероятно, к концу лета всё это будет готово, ибо я очень аккуратно и усердно работаю. Кроме того, у меня проектируется концертная пьеса для ф[орте]п[иано] в двух частях. Не знаю только, успею ли летом с ней что-нибудь сделать. А хорошо было бы, если бы Вы в этом сезоне её сыграли. Я останусь здесь ещё несколько времени. Можно почти с полной уверенностью сказать, что и на этот раз я не попаду в Селище. Будь это ближе к жел[езной] дор[оге], я мог бы заехать, — но эти ужасные 80 верст!!! А между тем, долго остаться там не могу, ибо меня с величайшим нетерпением ждёт брат Анатолий и его жена. Кланяйтесь всем милым Масловым и Владимиру Егоровичу, если он у Вас. Будьте здоровы.

Напишите мне сюда.

Ваш П. Чайковский

30 June 1884

Poltava Province,
Konstantinogradsky District,
post station Novo-Nikolayevka,
to Grankino

I have received your letter. Although it was very interesting for me to read your views on my little songs [1], still I bear you a grudge for not having written a single word about yourself, your work, your plans and projects!

All the things that you don't approve of in the little songs, that is, your remarks about the ending of Legend and the excessive gloominess in the song about winter [2], etc, are utterly correct! As is often the case, I was in a rush to have them printed. Everything that you said I did vaguely feel myself when making a fair copy of them, and if I had shown you the little songs before they were engraved, it would have been very easy to correct the flaws you have pointed out. It can't be helped: I shall have to put this off until the next edition, if there ever is one [3].

I would very much like to say that your words of praise are utterly spot-on too, but modesty prevents me from confirming the accuracy of your appraisal. And so, I won't say that I agree with you, but that I am very glad at your praise. I like it very much when you praise me.

I am presently writing my Third Suite. I wanted to do a symphony, but it wouldn't come off. Anyway, the name doesn't matter; in any case, I'm writing a large symphonic work in four movements, namely: 1) Andante, 2) another waltz, 3) Scherzo, 4) Theme with 12 variations. All this will probably be ready by the end of the summer, because I am working very painstakingly and diligently. Apart from that, I have an idea for a concert piece for piano in two movements. I just do not know whether I shall be have time to do anything with it over the summer. It would be nice, though, if you could perform it this season. I shall remain here for some time yet. I can say with almost complete certainty that this time, too, I shall not be able to make it to Selishche [4]. If the latter were closer to the railway line I might have dropped by, but for those terrible 80 verst [5]!!! And yet I cannot stay there for long, because my brother Anatoly and his wife are awaiting me with the greatest impatience. Give my regards to the dear Maslovs and to Vladimir Yegorovich if he is staying with you. Keep well.

Write to me here.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. In a letter to Tchaikovsky on 22 June/4 July 1884 Taneyev had written mainly about his impressions of the recently published Sixteen Songs for Children, Op. 54 (settings mainly of texts from Aleksey Pleshcheyev's Snowdrop, a collection of poems for children): "Before anything else I shall tell you about the great pleasure afforded to me by your children's songs. I have played and sung them for a very long time, and some of them I have learnt by heart. I like them because they are written in a very simple manner; at the same time, through these simple means the required mood is attained in the majority of the songs. [...] Among the individual numbers first place must undoubtedly go to The Cuckoo". Taneyev's letter has been published in П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 105–107.
  2. In his letter of 22 June/4 July 1884 Taneyev wrote: "Christ [i.e. the song Legend, which tells of the child Jesus] is delightful. The only thing I don't like in it is the very ending (the subordinate clause of the concluding phrase), which is made up of a far too ordinary melodic sequence that has a certain sentimental character and is little in keeping with both the whole piece and the four preceding bars". With regard to the song Winter Evening, Taneyev pointed out: "Its text is made up of two halves which are different in their moods. In the first half we are told in great detail how children are having fun: joy, ringing laughter, playing on the piano, pranks, dancing, songs, screams etc. In the second half the author [Aleksey Pleshcheyev]]] moves on to sad reflections about those children who lead an altogether different life, who don't have a mother or a warm roof over their heads, etc. I think that one shouldn't use the mood of the second half as the general backdrop for the whole narrative, and indeed, the form of couplets is not very appropriate for this poem divided into two parts which are so dissimilar in terms of their moods".
  3. In subsequent editions of the Sixteen Songs for Children, Op. 54 both Legend and Winter Evening were, however, published without any alterations — note by Vladimir Zhdanov in П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 108.
  4. The estate in Oryol Province belonging to Fyodor Maslov and his three sisters, where Taneyev, as on so many other occasions, was spending his summer vacation. Despite receiving numerous invitations to visit Selishche over the years, Tchaikovsky never went there.
  5. Approximately 85 kilometres.