Letter 3013

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 25 July/6 August 1886
Addressed to Emiliya Pavlovskaya
Where written Maydanovo
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow (Russia): Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Pavlovskaya collection)
Publication Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1902), p. 122–123 (abridged)
Чайковский на Московской сцене (1940), p. 367–369
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIII (1971), p. 414–416

Text and Translation

Russian text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
с[ело] Майданово
25 июля 1886 г[ода]

Дорогая Эмилия Карловна!

Очень обрадован был известием от Вас и с чрезвычайным удовольствием прочёл письмо Ваше. Приятно было узнать из него, что Вы отдохнули от петербургского утомления и вполне бодро и хорошо себя чувствуете. Вы находитесь в местности, которую я чрезвычайно люблю и где я много раз подòлгу живал (а именно в Villa Richelieu, недалеко от Hôtel du Cygne, ближе к Clarens, чем к Montreux). Бóльшая часть Онегина написана и оркестрована в этой вилле, где держала пансион некая милейшая M[ada]me Mayor. Не знаю, существует ли ещё этот пансион.

За программу для одной из будущих моих симфоний очень, очень благодарю Вас, моя милая благодетельница. Только уж очень стар я становлюсь и дай Бог справиться со всем тем, что я ещё до Шильонского узника должен написать. В самом деле 46 лет дают себя знать; чувствую, что нет прежней прыти и лёгкости. В былое время я бы Чародейку всю в несколько месяцев написал, — а теперь вот уж почти год, что я работаю, а всё ещё не кончил даже черновых набросков. Тем не менее, очень, очень Вам благодарен, и если буду ещё несколько лет жив и здоров, весьма может статься, что и исполню Ваше желание. Сюжет, конечно, весьма благодарный. Из «Чародейки» у меня готово вчерне всё, кроме нескольких отрывков последнего действия. Шпажинский написал мне вместо 4 и 5 действия своей драмы одно большое действие, ничего не имеющее общего с драмой, необыкновенно эффектное, но очень для меня трудное. Бог даст, надеюсь с осени начать инструментовку, так чтобы в сезоне 87-88 годов можно было бы дать оперу. Впрочем, Бог знает! О постановке «Черевичек» никто и не заикается (я говорю про Петербург). Авось, Бог даст, лет через шесть Государь прикажет поставить, как было с «Онегиным». Может быть, и с «Чародейкой» будет то же самое. Во всяком случае, как для той, так и для другой оперы я рассчитываю на Вас и ужасно боюсь, что те неприятности, о коих Вы пишете, заставят Вас уйти из Петербурга. По этому поводу позвольте сделать Вам маленький упрёк. Вы слишком много обращаете внимания на отзывы прессы и на так называемые интриги. У Вас огромный талант; талант этот одинаково ценит и публика, и театральная администрация. Чего же ещё нужно? И может ли первоклассная художница, как Вы, опускаться до таких дрязг, как ядовитые отзывы дюжинных писак или подвохи третьестепенных Ваших сотоварищей и сотоварок. Вы должны игнорировать всё это, делать своё дело, не оглядываясь по сторонам. Очень, очень жаль, если «Мазепа» сойдёт с репертуара. Просить никого не буду. И зачем? Ведь я знаю, что у меня нет недоброжелателей в театре. Если Мазепа не шёл, — значит так сложились обстоятельства, что ему не суждено было идти. Точно так же ни о «Черевичках», ни о «Чародейке» просить не буду. Да и правду сказать, — опер так много, всего давать невозможно. И главное, опыт меня научил, что нужно уметь ждать. Судьба «Онегина» лучшее тому доказательство.

В Москве «Черевички» пойдут, и я хочу действительно попытаться засесть на дирижёрское кресло. Репетиции покажут, могу ли я настолько победить свою болезненную застенчивость, чтоб не провалить собственное детище. Милейший И. А. Всев[оложский] велел ничего не жалеть для постановки. Теперь начальство другое, помешанное на экономии, — не знаю, будут или не будут отменены распоряжения прежнего Директора.

Путешествие моё было чрезвычайно удачно. Мне очень понравился Тифлис и Тифлисская жизнь. Между прочим присутствовал там при очень хорошем исполнении «Мазепы». Один Лодий чего стоит! Он в последнем акте положительно исторгает слёзы. Имеете ли Вы понятие о Зарудной? Очень симпатичная певица. Она в Марии мне очень понравилась. Средства её не обширны; наружность и фигура мало сценичны, к игре таланту почти нет, — но в её голове, в выражении лица, во всей персоне её какая-то неопределённая симпатичность, заставляющая прощать недостатки и внушающая всеобщее сочувствие. Очень музыкальна, добросовестна и страстно любит своё дело. Ах, как я желал бы, чтобы Лодий пел в «Чародейке»! Это единственный из наших теноров, который сколько-нибудь подходит под требования роли Княжича. Как вспомнишь, что в Москве его будет изображать милый, но столь чудовищно неуклюжий Усатов, — руки опускаются.


Из Тифлиса я отправился в Батум и там сел на пароход, с коим поплыл в Константинополь и оттуда прямо в Марсель. В Италии я вовсе не был, испугавшись десятидневного карантина, коему подвергались путешественники, ездившие из Италии во Францию. В Париже пробыл месяц. Известие, прочитанное Вами в газетах, что я будто бы давал там концерт, совершенно ложно. Я и не думал об этом; да летом и нельзя в Париже устраивать концертов. Время провёл там приятно, но очень утомился от массы новых знакомств и сопряжённых с ними обедов, вечеров и т. д.

Поклонитесь от меня милому Сергею Евграфовичу и большеглазой сестрице. Вам посылаю тысячу приветствий и пожеланий и горячо целую Вашу ручку. Не сердитесь на меня за упрёк, который я позволил себе сделать Вам. Если я не прав, то убедительно прошу простить неуместность моих советов. Я останусь здесь ещё долго. Если захотите опять обрадовать письмецом, адресуйте г. Клин, с. Майданово.

Целую Ваши ручки, благодетельница.

Ваш, П. Чайковский

Сходите в Gliou пешком через ущелье Chaudronnier. Это была моя любимая прогулка.

Maydanovo village
25 July 1886

I was very glad to have some news from you, and it was with extraordinary delight that I read through your letter [1]. I was pleased to learn from it that you have been able to take a break from your exhausting work in Petersburg, and that you are feeling quite well and cheerful. You are in an area which I love very much, and in which I have, on numerous occasions, lived for long periods (namely, in the Villa Richelieu, not far from the Hôtel du Cygne — it is nearer to Clarens than to Montreux). The greater part of "Onegin" was written and scored in this villa [2], where there was a boarding-house run by a certain Madame Mayor, a very nice lady. I don't know whether this boarding-house still exists.

I thank you very, very much, my dear benefactress [3], for giving me the programme of one of my future symphonies [4]. The only thing is that I am getting very old — God grant that I manage to cope with everything that I still have to write before "The Prisoner of Chillon". Indeed, my 46 years are making themselves felt: I can feel that I've lost my earlier quickness and facility. In the past I would have written the whole of "The Enchantress" in a few months, whereas now I have been working on it for almost a whole year and I still haven't even finished the rough sketches. All the same, I am very, very grateful to you, and if I am still alive and continue to enjoy good health for a few more years, it is quite possible that I shall fulfil your request. It would of course be a very fruitful subject to use. I have completed all of" The Enchantress" in rough, except for some sections in the final act. Shpazhinsky has written a single long act for me to replace Acts IV and V in his drama — this single act has nothing in common with the play and is extraordinarily effective, but I am finding work on it very difficult. God willing, I hope to start the orchestration in the autumn, so that the opera can be produced during the 1887/88 season. Anyway, God knows what will happen! With regard to a staging of "Cherevichki" there has been complete silence (I mean in Petersburg). Maybe, God willing, six years or so hence His Majesty will command a production, as was the case with "Onegin". Perhaps it will be the same with "The Enchantress". In any event, I am counting on you for both the one and the other opera, and I am very afraid lest those unpleasant things you write about should force you to leave Petersburg [5]. In this regard, permit me to address one small reproach to you. You pay too much attention to comments in the press and to so-called intrigues. You have a tremendous talent; this talent is appreciated by the public and the theatre administration alike. What more do you need? I mean, can a first-rate artiste like you lower herself to take notice of such rubbish as the poisonous remarks of some ordinary hacks or the dirty tricks of your third-rate colleagues?! Your must ignore all this and do your job without looking round anxiously. It will be a great pity if "Mazepa" is taken off the repertoire. I do not intend to plead with anyone [6]. Besides, what use would it be? After all, I know that I don't have any ill-wishers at the theatre, so if "Mazepa" hasn't been performed, that means circumstances have turned out in such a way that this opera just isn't fated to be on the repertoire. Similarly, I do not intend to plead for "Cherevichki" or "The Enchantress". To tell the truth, there are so many operas that it would be quite impossible to stage all of them. And, most importantly, experience has taught me that it is essential to know how to wait. The fate of "Onegin" is the best proof of this.

In Moscow "Cherevichki" is going to be performed, and, as a matter of fact, I do want to sit in the conductor's chair. The rehearsals will show whether I can overcome my morbid shyness to such an extent that I need not be afraid of ruining my own creation. The ever so nice I. A. Vsevolozhsky ordered that no costs be spared for this production. Now a different management is in place, one which is obsessed with cost-cutting, and so I don't know whether the arrangements made by the previous Director will be revoked or not.

My trip was an extraordinary success. I liked Tiflis and the way of life in Tiflis very much. Among other things, I attended a very good performance of "Mazepa" there. Just the very fact of having Lody [7] in the cast! In the last act he was truly wrenching tears from the audience. Have you any idea about Zarudnaya and what she is like? She is a very appealing singer. I liked her very much as Mariya. Her vocal means are not extensive, her looks and figure are not very effective onstage, she almost has no talent for acting, and yet in her head, in the expression of her face, in all her person there is a certain indefinable attractiveness which causes one to forgive her shortcomings and awakens universal sympathy. She is very musical and conscientious, and loves her profession passionately. Oh, how I wish that Lody could sing in "The Enchantress"! He is the only one of our tenors who can be said to meet the requirements inherent in the role of the prince's son. When I remind myself that in Moscow this role is to be played by the nice, yet so monstrously ungainly Usatov [8], my heart just sinks to my boots.

From Tiflis I made my way to Batum where I embarked on a steamship which took me to Constantinople, and from there straight to Marseilles. I didn't visit Italy at all, as I was frightened by the prospect of a ten days' quarantine, which all travellers going from Italy to France were subject to. I spent a month in Paris. The report you read in the newspapers about my having given a concert in Paris is utterly false. That is something I hadn't even thought about, and, besides, in the summer it is impossible to organize concerts in Paris. I spent my time there very agreeably, though I was very exhausted in the end as a result of the masses of new acquaintances I made and the banquets, soirées etc. which these entailed.

Give my regards to dear Sergey Yevgrafovich [9] and your large-eyed sister. To you I send a thousand greetings, as well as wishing you the best and ardently kissing your hand. Do not be angry with me because of the reproach which I took the liberty of addressing to you. If I am wrong, then I beseech you to forgive the irrelevance of my advice. I shall remain here for a long time yet. If you should again wish to gladden me with a little letter, address it to: town of Klin, village of Maydanovo.

I kiss your hands, benefactress.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Go on a hike to Gliou, through the Chaudronnier ravine. That was my favourite walk [10].

Notes and References

  1. On 15/27 July 1886 Emiliya Pavlovskaya had written a long letter to Tchaikovsky from Montreux in Switzerland. Her letter has been published in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 360–365.
  2. During his first extended absence from Russia Tchaikovsky lived at the Villa Richelieu in Clarens from 10/22 October to 1/13 November 1877 and from 25 February/9 March to 5/17 April 1878, but only Act I of Yevgeny Onegin was orchestrated in Clarens (during the first of these stays). The opera had been composed mainly at Glebovo in the summer of 1877 and was orchestrated during stays in various places (in Russia and abroad), so Tchaikovsky's memory must have failed him in this letter, or perhaps he confused Onegin with The Maid of Orleans, much of which was written during his third stay at Clarens, from 30 December 1878/11 January 1879 to 4/16 February 1879.
  3. From his earliest letters to Pavlovskaya Tchaikovsky had called her his "benefactress", thereby emphasizing how grateful he was to her for her enthusiastic attitude towards Mazepa (in which she created the role of Mariya at the opera's premiere), as well as towards Yevgeny Onegin, in which she sang Tatyana many times.
  4. In her letter of 15/27 July 1886 Pavlovskaya had suggested that Tchaikovsky write a programme symphony on the subject of Byron's narrative poem The Prisoner of Chillon. She had had this idea after visiting the Château de Chillon near Montreux (which Tchaikovsky himself had visited many years earlier, on 13/25 July 1873). Not unlike Balakirev, with his detailed instructions to Tchaikovsky on how he should write the Romeo and Juliet overture and the Manfred symphony, Pavlovskaya had outlined the content of each of the movements of this potential symphony. In contrast to those initial suggestions from Balakirev, however, Tchaikovsky did not take up Pavlovskaya's idea.
  5. In her letter of 15/27 July 1886 Pavlovskaya had written about intrigues against her by envious colleagues of hers at the Saint Petersburg Bolshoi (Kamennyi) Theatre. In particular, she had been attacked in the press for enjoying the patronage of Ivan Vsevolozhsky and for wielding too much influence in the theatre.
  6. In her letter of 15/27 July 1886 Pavlovskaya urged Tchaikovsky to write to Vsevolozhsky to prevent Mazepa being taken off the repertoire, which seemed increasingly likely because the bass Fyodor Stravinsky (father of the composer), who was due to sing the title-role (written for a baritone), hadn't learnt his part properly, yet refused to surrender it to anyone else.
  7. Pyotr Andreyevich Lody (1855 or 1852–1920), Russian tenor and actor.
  8. Dmitry Usatov (1847–1913), Russian tenor; Tchaikovsky dedicated to him the song Death, No. 5 of the Six Romances, Op. 57.
  9. 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.
  10. This note was added by Tchaikovsky at the top of the first page of the letter.