Letter 2710

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 18/30 May 1885
Addressed to Emiliya Pavlovskaya
Where written Moscow
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow (Russia): Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Pavlovskaya collection)
Publication Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1902), p. 45 (abridged)
Чайковский на Московской сцене (1940), p. 345–346
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIII (1971), p. 87

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
18 мая

Дорогая, милая моя Эмилия Карловна!

Я совершенно измучен экзаменами и вообще моей служебной деятельностью, и потому не удивляйтесь и не сердитесь, что пишу Вам лишь несколько слов. Мне грустно было читать, что Вы в самом деле сердились на меня, — да и есть за что, — но надеюсь, что заглажу все свои вины в будущем. Я еду в Смоленск завтра, в воскресенье, вернусь в среду вечером (22-го), и если Вы проедете 23, 24, 25 или же 27, 28, 29, то, конечно, выеду на вокзал. В субботу 25-го вечером хотелось бы на один день съездить отдохнуть в деревню, т. е. провести там воскресенье 26-го, но если Вы иначе не можете проехать, как 26-го, то останусь нарочно, чтобы видеть Вас. Если же почему-либо и теперь не удастся Вас увидеть, то прощайте до осени, моя дорогая, милая, добрая благодетельница. Спасибо Вам за всё, чем обязан Вам!

Как я рад, что ставят Кармен. Это для Вас чудная роль. Не спорьте, когда эту оперу ставят высоко: я об ней сам такого мнения, что если какая-нибудь современная опера переживёт наше столетие, то это именно она. В своей непритязательности этот благоуханный музыкальный цветочек полон удивительной красоты. Не могу того же сказать о Manon Lescaut, которая, кажется, Вам нравится. Это изящно и мило — не больше. Видел на днях макеты декораций для Черевичек; они будут великолепны. Знаете ли, что для роли Оксаны я не вижу в Москве никого лучше Климентовой и отдаю ей эту роль? Всё-таки в этой госпоже есть искорка, несмотря на... тысячу несимпатичных качеств. Когда-то Вы споёте эту роль? Я мечтаю об этом, как об величайшем счастии. Но, увы, увы, увы!...

Целую ваши ручки.

Ваш П. Чайковский

Если будете телеграфировать или писать, адресуйте в Консерваторию.

Однако написал больше, чем несколько слов, и так бы хотелось ещё поболтать, — да нужно бежать на экзамен. Милому Сергею Евграфовичу дружески кланяюсь.

18 May

My dear and good Emiliya Karlovna!

The exams, and indeed my official activities as such, have been an utter torment for me [1]. Therefore, you must not be surprised and angry with me if I write you just a few words. I was saddened to read that you had indeed got angry with me — you certainly had good reason to — but I hope to make up for all my faults in future. I am going to Smolensk tomorrow, on Sunday, and am returning on Wednesday evening (22nd) [2], so if you pass through Moscow on the 23rd, 24th, 25th or the 27th, 28th, or 29th, then of course I shall drive out to the station [3]. On the evening of Saturday the 25th I should like to leave for the country to have a day's rest, i.e. I would spend Sunday the 26th there, but if the only date that you can pass through Moscow is the 26th, then I shall make sure to stay here so that I can see you. If for some reason I also miss this opportunity to see you, then farewell until the autumn, my dear, cherished, and kind benefactress. Thank you for everything for which I am obliged to you!

How glad I am that Carmen is to be staged [4]. That is a wonderful role for you. You mustn't quarrel with those who rate this opera highly. I myself am of the opinion that if any contemporary opera is fated to outlive our century, then it is precisely this opera. In its unpretentiousness this fragrant musical flower is full of astonishing beauty. I cannot say the same about Manon Lescaut, which I think you like. It is elegant and sweet, but nothing more [5]. The other day I saw the models of the scenery for Cherevichki: it will have a magnificent décor. Did you know that in Moscow I cannot envisage anyone better than Klimentova for the role of Oksana, and that I am giving her this role? After all, in this lady there is a small spark, in spite of… a thousand unattractive features. When will you, though, get to sing this role?[6] I dream of this as of the greatest happiness. But alas, alas, alas...!

I kiss your hands.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

If you decide to telegraph or write to me, use the Conservatory's address [7].

I did after all write more than just a few words, and I would so like to carry on chatting, but I have to rush to an exam. Give my friendly regards to dear Sergey Yevgrafovich [8].

Notes and References

  1. On 10/22 May 1885 Tchaikovsky had arrived in Moscow for the Conservatory examinations, at which he was obliged to be present in his capacity as a member of the board of directors of the Moscow branch of the Russian Musical Society.
  2. In fact, Tchaikovsky spent just one day in Smolensk, where he arrived on 20 May/1 June 1885 to attend the inauguration of a monument to Glinka. Distressed by the large crowds, he decided to leave for Moscow the following morning.
  3. In Letter 2708 to Emiliya Pavlovskaya on 9/21 May 1885, Tchaikovsky had promised to greet her at the station in Moscow if she passed through the old capital on her way to the south for the summer vacation.
  4. Already in her letter to Tchaikovsky written no later than 7/19 May 1885 Pavlovskaya had mentioned that Bizet's Carmen was one of the new operas that was going to be staged at the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre during the coming season (alongside Massenet's Manon Lescaut and Nápravník's Harold). In her later letter written between 8/20 and 16/28 May (of which the opening page or pages are missing) Pavlovskaya commented further on the plans for the next season: "You cannot imagine how difficult it is for me, how I simply don't have the energy to study all the new operas after your music. Everyone is praising Carmen — I remain silent or start quarrelling so passionately and with such conviction that I can defeat even such respectable opponents as E. F. N[ápravník]". Pavlovskaya's letter has been published in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 344–345.
  5. Tchaikovsky first heard Massenet's opera Manon Lescaut in Paris on 11/23 February 1884, shortly after its premiere. For more detailed comments by Tchaikovsky on this opera, see the entry on Massenet.
  6. The opera Cherevichki was not staged in Saint Petersburg during Tchaikovsky's lifetime: it was first shown there at the Mariinsky Theatre on 29 December 1906/11 January 1907. Thus, Pavlovskaya never had the opportunity to sing Oksana — note based on information provided by Vasily Kiselev in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 342.
  7. Tchaikovsky added this note down the side of the first page of the letter.
  8. Emiliya Pavlovskaya's husband, Sergey Yevgrafovich Pavlovsky (1846–1915), was also a singer (a baritone) and a member of the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre's troupe. Tchaikovsky added this note at the top of the first page of the letter.