Letter 3

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 30 October/11 November 1848
Addressed to Fanny Dürbach
Where written Moscow
Language French
Autograph Location unknown
Publication Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 1 (1900), p. 46–47
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 5 (French text with Russian translation)
Из семейных воспоминаний (1995), p. 43 (Russian translation)
Notes Manuscript copy in Klin (Russia): Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve

Text and Translation

Based on a manuscript copy in the Klin House-Museum Archive made by Modest Tchaikovsky, who also supplied the date of the letter. Spelling and punctuation errors in the French text have not been indicated.

French text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Chère Mademoiselle Fanny!

Nous sommes à Moscou deja plus de trois semaines et chaque jour toute les personnes de notre famille se rapellent de vous, il est si triste chez nous 3 personnes nous manquent beaucoup. Vous, ma tante et ma cousine Anastasie; je Vous assure que chaque jour je me rappelle de l'education que Vous nous avez donné; mercredi rappellez vous comme j'aprenai bien, vendredi aussi, et samedi rapellez vous! quand vous nous écriviez combien nous avions de 1-mière dans-nos semaines. On ne peut se rapeller de cette vie de Votkinsk je voudrais bien pleurez quand je pense à cela. A present nous apprenons chez Zina et je suis bien content que nous ayons quelqu'un pour apprendre.

Ici j'ai vu bien des choses que jamais je n'ai vu.

Papa est allé d'ici à Pétérsbourg pour nous apreter un cartié [5]. Nous sommes grace à Dieu bien portant et vous ma chère Mademoiselle Fanny? Ecrivez le moi je Vous en prie.

Votre reconnaissant élève,

Pierre Tschaikowsky

Dear Mademoiselle Fanny [1]

We have been in Moscow for more than three weeks now, and every day all the members of our family think about you, it is so sad here, we miss 3 people very much. You, Auntie [2], and my cousin Anastasiya [3] I promise you that every day I think about the lessons you have given us on Wednesdays and on Fridays and Saturdays. We cannot forget life in Votkinsk and I very much feel like crying when I think about it. At present we are having lessons with Zina, and I am very glad that we have someone who can teach us.

Here I have seen a lot of things which I had never seen before.

Papa has left for Petersburg in order to get an apartment ready for us [4]. We are well, thanks be to God, and are you my dear Mademoiselle Fanny? Please do let me know.

Your grateful pupil,

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. In the autumn of 1848, Ilya Tchaikovsky, after resigning his post in Votkinsk, had brought his family to Moscow, where he was hoping to obtain a more lucrative job. Since the plan was that the older children (Nikolay, Pyotr and their cousin Lidiya, who had been living with them after her own mother's death) would soon be enrolled in boarding-schools, whereas the younger children Aleksandra and Ippolit) needed a nanny rather than a governess, Fanny Dürbach decided not to accompany the Tchaikovskys to Moscow but to stay in Votkinsk, where she found employment with another family. This separation was very difficult for both Fanny and Pyotr. She would not see any member of the Tchaikovsky family again until New Year's Day 1893, when her beloved pupil, now a world-famous composer, visited her in Montbéliard.
  2. Nadezhda Timofeyevna Valtseva (d. 1851), the composer's godmother; she was an elderly relative of his mother Aleksandra. The icon of the Mother of God of Kazan which she bequeathed to him hangs to this day in the composer's bedroom at the Tchaikovsky House-Museum in Klin.
  3. Anastasiya Popova (1807–1894)—also known affectionately as "Sestritsa" or "Little Sister"—was the daughter of the composer's aunt Yevdokiya Popova. As a spinster she lived with the Tchaikovsky family in Votkinsk and, though known for her parsimony in housekeeping matters, she adored her little cousin and would spoil him with treats every so often.
  4. Ilya Tchaikovsky was cheated of the lucrative job he had been promised in Moscow, and he immediately set off for Saint Petersburg to try to secure a new official appointment.
  5. Young Pyotr has tried to render the Russian word квартир (kvartira; "lodging, apartment") directly into French, which is not so unreasonable, given that etymologically it is related to the French word quartier.