Letter 3141

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 2/14 January 1887
Addressed to Emiliya Pavlovskaya
Where written Maydanovo
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow (Russia): Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Pavlovskaya collection)
Publication Чайковский на Московской сцене (1940), p. 370–371
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 13–14

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
2-го января 1887

Голубушка Эмилия Карловна!

Вы меня устыдили присылкой приветственной депеши; а я-то, невежа, не догадался первый поздравить Вас с Новым годом! Но я теперь переживаю период полнейшей невменяемости. -В Москве прожил месяц, пог лощённый совершенно заботами о двух операх. Одна ставилась, другая с лихорадочной поспешностью писалась, дабы, согласно уговору, поспеть к великому посту. И теперь, приехавши домой, на праздники, я не отдыхаю, а продолжаю аранжировку «Чародейки». Вот почему я довёл себя до того, что ничего не помню и даже «благодетельницу» не поздравил с Новым годом вовремя!

Скажу Вам, дорогая Эмилия Карловна, что насчёт моего дирижированья я теперь спокоен, хотя не ручаюсь, что в день представления мной овладеет несносный и глупый страх. Первая репетиция была для меня ужасна; но я вышел победи-телем из борьбы с застенчивостью, и потом с каждой репети-цией шло лучше и лучше. Музыканты и все артисты и весь театр (за исключением Майкова, который меня терпеть не может) относятся ко мне с необычайным, умиляющим меня сочувствием.

Как бы я хотел, чтобы Вы приехали! Не могу выразить Вам, как бы мне приятно было знать, что Вы в театре. Очень бы желал также, чтобы Направник приехал. Ему, судя по письмам, необходимо развлечься от мрачных мыслей. Напишите словечка 2 ответа: приедете ли, конечно с Сергеем Евграфовичем!

Целую крепко Ваши ручки!

Ваш, П. Чайковский

2nd January 1887

Golubushka Emiliya Karlovna!

You have put me to shame by sending me a congratulatory telegram [1] — boor that I am, I didn't have the sense to be the first to wish you a Happy New Year! But, you see, I am now going through a period of complete absence of mind. I spent a month in Moscow, utterly absorbed in worries over my two operas [2] The one was being staged, the other was being written in feverish haste so that I might have it ready by Lent, as agreed. And now, having arrived back home for the holidays, I am not resting but continuing to work on the orchestration of The Enchantress. That is the reason why I have driven myself to such a state that I cannot remember anything and even failed to congratulate on time my "benefactress" [3] on the New Year!

I am pleased to report to you, dear Emiliya Karlovna, that I am now no longer worried about my conducting, though I cannot guarantee that on the day of the performance I won't be seized by an unbearable and silly fear. The first rehearsal was terrible for me, but I emerged victorious from this struggle with my shyness, and then things got better and better at every subsequent rehearsal. The orchestra players and all the singers and the whole theatre (except for Maykov [4], who can't stand the sight of me) treat me with extraordinary sympathy, which I find very touching.

How I wish that you could come! I cannot convey to you how pleasant it would be for me to know that you are in the audience. I would also very much like Nápravník to come. Judging from his letters, he really needs something to take his mind off these gloomy thoughts [5]. Write me a word or two to reply whether you will be coming, with Sergey Yevgrafovich [6] of course!.

I kiss your hands warmly!

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. This telegram has not survived.
  2. Tchaikovsky had arrived in Moscow on 19 November/1 December 1886 in order to take part in the rehearsals for Cherevichki, which he was due to conduct at the premiere early in the following year. On 4/16 December he conducted the first orchestral rehearsal of his opera at the Bolshoi Theatre. During his stay in Moscow Tchaikovsky also continued to orchestrate The Enchantress — a task which he did not complete until 6/18 May 1887 — and worked simultaneously on a piano reduction of this opera. He returned to Maydanovo at the end of December 1886 [O.S.] and stayed there until 7/19 January 1887, when he went to Moscow again conduct the final rehearsals and premiere of Cherevichki on 19/31 January.
  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. Apollon Aleksandrovich Maykov (1826-1902), director of the Moscow Imperial Theatres in 1886/87.
  5. Nápravník's "gloomy thoughts" had to do with an article which had appeared in the journal Musical Review on 4/16 December 1886, and in which the Czech-born conductor was accused of a lack of sympathy for Russian composers. It was also insinuated that he had "positively tried to dissuade Mr Tchaikovsky from staging Onegin" at the Mariinsky Theatre. Tchaikovsky responded to this attack against Nápravník, to whom he felt profoundly grateful for having conducted so well many of his operas, by sending an open letter to the editor of Musical Review (see Letter 3123a). Nápravník was unable to come to Moscow for the premiere of Cherevichki on 19/31 January 1887 because he had to fulfil a conducting engagement in Saint Petersburg — note based on information provided by Vasily Kiselev in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 371.
  6. 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.