Letter 2830

Date 9/21 December 1885
Addressed to Félix Mackar
Where written Maydanovo
Language French
Autograph Location Paris (France): Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département de la Musique
Publication Revue de musicologie, tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 47–49 ("9/12 December")
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIII (1971), p. 213–215.

Text and Translation

French text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Kline, Maïdanowo 1885
9/21 Déc[embre] 1885

Mon bien cher éditeur et ami

Je V[ou]s remercie d'avance pour les journaux que V[ou]s m'avez expédiés, mais que je n'ai pas encore reçus. Ils arriveront ce soir, probablement. En même [= même] temps que je V[ou]s ecris [= écris] cette lettre, j'en expédie une autre à Mr Bock ou je fais des instances auprès de lui pour qu'il V[ou]s cède ses droits sur « Roméo ». J'espère que cette affaire s'arrangera.

Quant à la pièce que je V[ou]s ai promise je ne sais pas encore le nom que je lui donnerai. Il faut d'abord la faire et je dois V[ou]s prévenir qu'il se passera encore quelque temps avant que j'aie le loisir de m'en occuper. Mais j'espère que pas plus tard que dans deux mois je V[ou]s l'enverrai. Je la ferai facile, puisque V[ou]s le voulez ainsi. Cette pièce je vous la donne avec droits pour tous pays et si Jurgenson voudra l'acheter c'est à Vous qu'il devra s'adresser.

Quant à mes autres œuvres futures (Manfred par exemple) je ne sais encore comment faire pour V[ou]s en céder les droits, sans froisser Jurgenson. Il me semble que comme nous sommes avec Vous en relations directes qui sont déjà amicales et qui le seront bien davantage quand j'aurai fait personnellement Votre connaissance, – il serait parfaitement simple et juste que nous arrangions nos affaires sans l'entremise de Jurgenson. Il n'aura qu'à décompter de la somme qu'il me payera la part de la France et de la Belgique. Dans 5 jours se vais à Moscou et à ma premiere entrevue avec Jurgenson je lui en parlerai et V[ou]s communiquerai le résultat de notre entretien. V[ou]s demandez combien je vends mes manuscripts ? Mes amis prétendent que je me fais payer misérablement, mais ces amis oublient que graver et publier une grande œuvre simphonique coûte beaucoup d'argent et qu'il faut beaucoup de succès et beaucoup de temps pour que l'argent que l'éditeur depense pour cette espèce de compositions rentre dans son portefeuille. C'est toujours moi qui fixe le prix de mes grandes œuvres. Pour V[ou]s donner une idée du maximum auquel je suis parvenu, je V[ou]s dirai que Jurgenson m'a payé 300 rubles pour la dernière Suite (No 3) et 200 r. pour la Fantaisie concertante (op. 56) ce qui fait en tout 500 rubles (environs 1000 francs) pour les deux compositions. Est-ce peu ? Est-ce beaucoup ? Je n'en sais rien ; mais je sais que Jurgenson m'aurait donné le double si je le lui avais demandé, car il a toujours été très genéreux vis-àvis [= vis-à-vis] de moi – seulement je n'ai jamais voulu abuser de cette genérosité. Quant à mes petites pièces pour piano, romances etc. il les paye 50 rubles (environs 100 francs) la pièce. L'editeur [= L'éditeur] Bernard m'ayant prié de lui donner six morceaux pour le piano et m'ayant offert 100 rubles pour chaque pièce, j'ai dit à Jurgenson (il y a de cela 3 ans) que je voudrais bien gagner la somme de 600 rubles, mais que je ne desirai [= désirais] pas avoir affaire à un éditeur autre que lui. Alors Jurgenson m'offrit de faire les six morceaux pour lui et me les paya 600 rubles. C'est l'unique fois que nous avons dépassé la norme ; 50 ruble[s] est le prix pour ainsi dire fixe de mes petites pièces. Je V[ou]s donne tous ces details [= détails] pour que V[ou]s soyez au courant de mes rapport[s] pecuniaires [= pécuniaires] avec Jurgenson.

Pour Manfred je ne sais encore quels seront les honoraires que je lui fixerai. Je crois que c'est la plus parfaite de mes œuvres ; elle m'a coûté beaucoup de temps et de travail ; je désirerai[s] qu'elle fut payée plus largement que les precédentes [= précédentes].

Comme je l'ai dit plus haut, il faudra que je décide à ma prochaine entrevue avec Jurgenson, la manière dont mes compositions futures deviendront Votre propriété pour la France et la Belgique et soyez certain, cher ami, que je ne demande pas mieux que de V[ou]s contenter en tous points, – mais comme V[ou]s le dites V[ou]s même, il ne faut pas que Jurgenson qui est et a toujours été un vrai ami pour moi soit géné [= gêné] ni froissé dans ses interèts [= intérêts].

Il est plus que probable que j'irai en Italie au mois de Mars et je suis presque certain que j'aurai le plaisir de V[ou]s voir à Paris, ou j'irai certainement passer quelque[s] jours dans le cas que ce voyage projeté s'effectuera.

On doit monter à Moscou cet hiver mon opéra Vakoula le Forgeron que j'ai entièrement refait à cette occasion et c'est après la premiere représentation que je compte voyager un peu. Cet opéra passera probablement vers la fin de la saison, c'est à dire en Février.

Mr Lamoureux m'a envoyé sa photographie et une lettre très flatteuse, pour mon amour-propre d'auteur ; aussi en ai-je été vivement touché et lui en ai exprimé ma reconnaissance.

Merci mille fois pour votre portrait !

A revoir, cher editeur [= éditeur] et ami. Croyez à mes meilleurs sentiments.

P. Tschaïkovsky

Klin, Maydanovo 1885
9/21 December 1885

My very dear publisher and friend

I thank you in advance for the journals which you have sent me, but which I have not yet received [1]. They will probably arrive this evening. At the same time as I am writing this letter to you, I have sent off one to Mr Bock, in which I urge him to transfer to you his rights to Romeo. I hope that this affair will work out [2].

As for the piece which I promised you, I do not know yet what name I shall give to it. I have to write it first, and I must warn you that it will take a while yet before I have the time to work on it. However, I hope to be able to send it to you within two months at the latest. I shall make it an easy piece, since you wish it so. I will give it to you with the rights for all countries, and if Jurgenson wants to buy it, he will have to contact you [3].

As for my other future works (Manfred, for example), I do not yet know how I can transfer the rights to you without offending Jurgenson. It seems to me that, since you and I have established a direct relationship which is already friendly, and which will become even more so once I have made your personal acquaintance, it would be perfectly straightforward and fair for us to do business with one another without having Jurgenson as an intermediary. All he will have to do is to deduct from the sum he pays me the share for France and Belgium. In five days' time I shall be going to Moscow, and during my first meeting with Jurgenson I shall speak to him about this and will let you know the outcome of our conversation [4]. You asked how much I charge for my manuscripts. My friends claim that I let myself be paid miserably, but these friends forget that engraving and publishing a big symphonic work costs a lot of money, and that it requires a great deal of success and of time, too, for the money which a publisher has expended on compositions of this kind to make its way back into his wallet. It is always I who determine the price of my big works. In order to give you an idea of the maximum which I have reached, let me tell you that Jurgenson paid me 300 rubles for my last suite (No. 3) and 200 rubles for the Concert Fantasia (Op. 56), which means 500 rubles in total (around 1,000 francs) for the two compositions. Is that little? Is it a lot? I have no idea, but I do know that Jurgenson would have given me twice that amount if I had asked him for it, because he has always been very generous towards me—it is only that I have never wanted to abuse of this generosity. As for my small pieces for piano, romances etc. he pays 50 rubles (some 100 francs) apiece for those. When the publisher Bernard asked me to supply him with six piano pieces and offered me 100 rubles for each one, I told Jurgenson (this was 3 years ago) that I would very much like to earn 600 rubles, but that I did not wish to have dealings with any other publisher than him. Then Jurgenson suggested I write the six pieces for him and paid me 600 rubles for them [5]. This was the only time that we exceeded the normal rate—50 rubles is, so to speak, the standard price of my small pieces. I am giving you all these details so that you are aware of my financial dealings with Jurgenson.

With regard to Manfred, I do not know yet what fee I shall charge him. I think that it is the most perfect of my works; it has cost me a lot of time and effort, and I should like it to be paid more handsomely than the preceding ones.

As I mentioned above, I shall have to decide during my next meeting with Jurgenson the way in which my future compositions will become your property for France and Belgium. Now, you may rest assured, dear friend, that I could not ask for better than to oblige you at all points, but, as you yourself say, Jurgenson, who has always been a true friend to me, must not see himself prejudiced or offended in his interests [6].

It is more than likely that I shall go to Italy in March, and I am almost certain that I shall have the pleasure of seeing you in Paris, where I shall definitely go to spend some days in the event that this planned trip should work out [7].

This winter there is to be a production in Moscow of my opera Vakula the Smith, which I have completely revised for this occasion. It is after the first performance that I intend to do a little bit of travelling. The opera will probably be put on towards the end of the season, that is to say in February [8].

Mr Lamoureux has sent me his photograph and a letter which is very flattering for my authorial self-esteem. I was likewise deeply touched by it, and I have conveyed to him my gratitude [9].

A thousand thanks for your portrait!

Good-bye, dear publisher and friend. Be assured of my best regards.

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Mackar had sent Tchaikovsky cuttings from the Parisian journals and newspapers which reviewed the concert conducted by Charles Lamoureux (1834–1899) at the Éden-Théâtre on 17/29 November 1885, at which the Polish-born pianiste Cécile Silberberg (b. 1858) had performed the Piano Concerto No. 1 to great acclaim [back]
  2. The overture-fantasia Romeo and Juliet was not among the works whose copyright and distribution rights for France and Belgium Jurgenson sold to Mackar in August 1885, because the universal copyright in the overture was held by the firm of Bote & Bock of Berlin. Mackar was very keen to acquire the rights to this work from Bote & Bock, and he asked Tchaikovsky if he could help him in these negotiations by writing to the firm. Tchaikovsky complied and sent Hugo Bock a letter which has not come down to us. However, we know that the German publisher's response was positive from Tchaikovsky's subsequent Letter 2839a to Bock on 22 December 1885/3 January 1886 [back]
  3. In his letter from Paris on 2/14 December 1885, Mackar had enquired about the piano piece which Tchaikovsky had agreed to write specially for him, and for which the publisher had originally suggested "Russian Carnival" as its title. In this letter he noted: "If the title 'Carnival' is not very authentic with regard to Russia, you could call it 'Russian Rhapsody'. What do you think?" After suggesting that the piece should be dedicated to Antoine-François Marmontel (1816–1898), the highly influential professor of piano at the Paris Conservatory who had introduced several of his pupils to Tchaikovsky's piano music, Mackar added: "In terms of its length, this piece should not exceed Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody, but, please, do try to ensure that it is easier, more accessible for all pianists". Tchaikovsky did not get round to fulfilling this request until February 1886, when he wrote the piano piece Dumka (subtitled "Russian rustic scene"). However, Jurgenson chose not to forward the manuscript to Mackar in Paris and published it himself later that year. Mackar's letter of 2/14 December 1885 has been published (in an abridged Russian translation only) in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 150–151 [back]
  4. See Letter 2839 to Mackar of 22 December 1885/3 January 1886  [back]
  5. The idea for the Six Pieces, Op. 51, for piano solo (1882) had originally come from Nikolay Bernard, who asked Tchaikovsky in January 1882 to write six piano pieces that could be published in his journal Nuvellist (where the piano cycle The Seasons had been serialized six years earlier). Tchaikovsky declined this request because he was bound by an agreement with Jurgenson which gave the latter the right of first refusal to publish the composer's works. Jurgenson nevertheless took up Bernard's idea and asked Tchaikovsky to write such a set of piano pieces for his firm instead. The composer eventually carried out this commission in August/September 1882 [back]
  6. After discussing the piano piece which Tchaikovsky had undertaken to write specially for him (see note 3 above), Mackar had asked in his letter: "Will this piece become my property for all countries? However, Mr Jurgenson will probably become angry if he is deprived of the Russian copyright; I shall leave it up to you how you would like to settle all this. You must of course think about your friend the French publisher, but after you have satisfied your first publisher. It is only for France that, in the event you should receive other offers in future, I would ask you to give me priority" [back]
  7. Tchaikovsky did not in fact travel to Italy as planned, but, rather, in late March/early April 1886 he set off for Tiflis, which he was visiting for the first time and where he stayed with his brother Anatoly and his family. After Tiflis he made his way to Paris (which involved crossing the Mediterranean as a ship took him from Constantinople to Marseilles), arriving in the French capital on 15/27 May 1886. The main purpose of his visit (which lasted until 12/24 June) was to collect Georges-Léon, the three-year-old illegitimate son of his late niece Tatyana Davydova, and bring him to Russia. However, on 21 May/2 June he also called on Mackar, who arranged for him to meet a number of prominent French musicians and organized various events in his honour [back]
  8. Due to the illness of Ippolit Altani, the principal conductor of the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre, Cherevichki (the revised version of Vakula the Smith) was not in fact premiered there during the 1885/86 season as originally scheduled, but had to be postponed until the following season. When the premiere finally took place on 19/31 January 1887 it would be Tchaikovsky who conducted [back]
  9. On 30 November/12 December 1885, Charles Lamoureux had written to Tchaikovsky to thank him for his photograph, which Mackar had passed on to him. With this letter he enclosed his own photograph bearing the inscription: "À Mr P. Tschaikowsky / témoignage de sincère admiration / Paris 12 Xbre 1885 / Ch. Lamoureux" (To Mr P. Tchaikovsky / a token of sincere admiration / Paris, 12 December 1885 [N.S.] / Ch. Lamoureux). His letter has been published in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 216–217, and the photograph he inscribed for Tchaikovsky is also reproduced there, between p. 144 and p. 145. Tchaikovsky's letter to Lamoureux, however, has not come to light [back]