Letter 2570

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 18/30 October 1884
Addressed to Aleksandr Ostrovsky
Where written Saint Petersburg
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow: Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Ostrovsky collection)
Publication А. Н. Островский и русские композиторы. Письма (1937), p. 167
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XII (1970), p. 463

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Многоуважаемый Александр Николаевич!

От всей души сочувствую празднеству в честь И. В. Самарина и тем более желал бы по мере сил принять в нём участие, что обращение ко мне исходит от Вас, а отказать Вам в чём-либо я считаю невозможным. К сожалению я поглощён теперь постановкой моей оперы и работать решительно не способен. Вскоре после первого представления оперы я отправлюсь в Москву и там только буду иметь возможность что-либо сделать, если только поспею к сроку. Как жаль, что раньше я не был предупреждён, что могу понадобиться! Во всяком случае положительно обещаюсь что-нибудь предпринять и, если юбилей состоится не ранее 20-х чисел ноября, надеюсь поспеть во время. Верьте, многоуважаемый Александр Николаевич, что для меня будет в высшей степени приятно услужить Вам хотя косвенным образом

Примите уверение в глубочайшем уважении к Вам.

П. Чайковский

18 окт[ября] 1884 г[ода]

Most respected Aleksandr Nikolayevich!

With all my heart I welcome the celebration in honour of I. V. Samarin [1], and my wish to take part in it to the best of my abilities is all the stronger, given that this request is being addressed to me by you [2], and I consider it impossible to refuse you anything. Unfortunately, I am now engrossed in the production of my opera [3] and am quite incapable of doing any work [4]. Shortly after the first performance of the opera I shall head for Moscow [5], and only there will it be possible for me to do anything, if only I have enough time to meet the deadline. What a pity that I was not warned earlier that I might be needed! In any case I positively promise to undertake something [6], and if the jubilee celebration does not take place until the last ten days of November [7], then I hope to be able to make it in time. Believe me, much esteemed Aleksandr Nikolayevich, that it will be extremely agreeable for me to render you a service, even in this indirect fashion

Please accept this assurance of my ever so profound respect for you.

P. Tchaikovsky

18 October 1884

Notes and References

  1. The year 1884 was the fiftieth anniversary of the actor Ivan Samarin's stage début, and his friends and colleagues in Moscow were organizing a celebration in his honour. Tchaikovsky's own friendship with Samarin went back as far as 1866, when he had arrived in Moscow to take up employment as a teacher of musical theory — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 168.
  2. Ostrovsky's letter to Tchaikovsky inviting him to contribute to the forthcoming celebrations in honour of Samarin has not survived in the composer's archive at the Klin House-Museum — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 168.
  3. Tchaikovsky's opera Yevgeny Onegin was to be performed for the first time at the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre in a production which opened on 19/31 October 1884 (five and a half years after its premiere in Moscow). Tchaikovsky had arrived in the imperial capital in early/mid October to supervise the rehearsals at the Mariinsky Theatre.
  4. The composer's letters to Pyotr Jurgenson on 12/24 October 1884 (Letter 2568) and to Nadezhda von Meck on 22 October/3 November 1884 (Letter 2574) show how busy, exhausted, and agitated Tchaikovsky felt during this period. On the opening night of Yevgeny Onegin he even had "a terrible nervous fit" inside the theatre, as he confessed to his benefactress in that letter — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 168.
  5. Tchaikovsky did not in fact go to Moscow after the first performance of Yevgeny Onegin at the Mariinsky Theatre, because while still in Saint Petersburg he received news about the worsening state of the violinist Iosif Kotek, who was ill with tuberculosis and had been interned in a sanatorium at Davos, in Switzerland. On 1/13 November 1884 Tchaikovsky set off from Saint Petersburg to make his way to Davos and visit his friend — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 168.
  6. On his way to Switzerland Tchaikovsky stopped over at Berlin for four days because he wanted to compose a chorus there, as well as "an entr'acte for the Samarin jubilee", as he wrote to Modest on 7/19 November 1884, adding: "The latter has been done and dispatched" (Letter 2586). When Jurgenson, in 1890, came to publish this entr'acte (written for string orchestra) Tchaikovsky decided to rename it Elegy in Samarin's memory. The initial title, as indicated on the autograph score, was "Hommage [in French]. A Grateful Greeting (to I. V. Samarin)". The date of completion indicated at the end of the score reads: "Berlin, 6 November 1884" [O.S.] — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 168.
  7. The celebrations to mark Samarin's jubilee took place in Moscow on 16/28 December 1884. Apart from Tchaikovsky's A Grateful Greeting (now referred to as Elegy) another musical work performed at the festivities was Anton Arensky's Hymn to Art for a soloist, chorus, and orchestra, which was a setting of some verses by Ostrovsky — note by Sergey Popov in А. Н. Островский и П. И. Чайковский (1937), p. 168.