Letter 3152

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 21 January/2 February 1887
Addressed to Emiliya Pavlovskaya
Where written Moscow
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow (Russia): Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Pavlovskaya collection)
Publication Чайковский на Московской сцене (1940), p. 381–382 ("22 January 1887")
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 22–23

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
21 янв[аря 18]87 г[ода]

Дорогая Эмилия Карловна!

Спасибо за заботливость о моих артистических успехах, спасибо за Ваше сочувствие, внимание, дружбу! Мне невозможно дирижировать 26-го. Во 1-х, как раз в этот день я дирижирую 3-м представлением «Черевичек» и не могу взять назад обещание, ибо ради меня цены повышены и объявлена подписка, уже вся, кажется: покрыта я 2. Во 2-х, нужно приготовиться к дирижированию «Онегина», а на это я не имею времени. В 3-х, знаете ли, милая, дорогая моя, что я в страшной горести. Знаете ли, что девица, умершая на bal masqué в Дворянском собрании в Петербурге, есть моя родная племянница, та самая, из-за которой, если помните, я целый год жил в Пари же и лечил её от морфиномании. Я её ужасно любил. Как раз 26-го тело её повезут в Киевскую губернию. Приезжает убитый (буквально) горем отец. Я должен (уж раз что я в Петербурге) быть около них. Ну можно ли в такой день дирижировать!!!

Простите меня. Я ужасно, мучительно-болезненно отношусь к этой ужасной катастрофе. Целую ручки.

Ваш, П. Чайковский

21 January 1887

Thank you for your concern for my artistic success, thank you for your sympathy, attention, and friendship! It is impossible for me to conduct on the 26th [1]. Firstly, as it happens, on that very day I am conducting the 3rd performance of "Cherevichki" [2], and I cannot go back on my promise, because the ticket prices were raised for my sake and a subscription was announced for which I think all the tickets have now been sold. Secondly, I would need to prepare myself before conducting "Onegin", and I don't have time for that. Thirdly, are you aware, my dear and cherished friend, that I am in a state of terrible grief? Are you aware that the young girl who died at a bal masqué [3] in the Assembly of the Nobility in Petersburg is my niece — that same niece for whose sake, as you may remember, I lived in Paris for a whole year in order to cure her of her morphine addiction. I loved her terribly much. On the 26th, as it happens, her remains are to be taken to Kiev province. Her father, who is literally crushed with grief, is coming. If I go to Petersburg myself, I must remain at their side. Well, can I possibly conduct on such a day?!!!

Forgive me. This terrible catastrophe has affected me in an awful, agonizingly painful way. I kiss your hands.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. In a letter whose date has been established as 20 January/1 February 1887, Emiliya Pavlovskaya suggested to Tchaikovsky that he should come to Saint Petersburg and conduct a performance of Yevgeny Onegin on 26 January/7 February. When she made this suggestion Pavlovskaya had not yet received Tchaikovsky's Letter 3150 of 20 January/1 February 1887, in which he mentioned how the sad news of his niece Tanya's death had affected him profoundly. Pavlovskaya's letter has been published in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 381, but its date is given there as "21 January/1 February 1887", hence the slightly different dating of Tchaikovsky's letter in that edition.
  2. In fact, the third performance of Cherevichki at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre took place not on 26 January/7 February but on 27 January/8 February 1887 — note by Vasily Kiselev in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 382.
  3. bal masqué (French) = a masked ball.