Letter 3297

Date 23 July/4 August 1887
Addressed to Emiliya Pavlovskaya
Where written Aachen
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow (Russia): Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Pavlovskaya collection)
Publication Чайковский на Московской сцене (1940), p. 390–391
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 161–162

Text and Translation

Russian text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
23 июля [18]87
Aachen, Neubad, 21

Голубушка Эмилия Карловна!

Чрезвычайно был обрадован Вашим письмом, мне давно уже хотелось хоть что-нибудь узнать про благодетельницу, да не знал куда писать. Вы, конечно, удивлены, что я очутился в Ахене, в скучнейшем, противнейшем городишке, какой только есть на свете. Для того чтобы Вы узнали, каким образом и откуда я сюда появился, расскажу Вам вкратце все, что со мной было с тех пор, как Вас не видел. Конец поста, святую, весь апрель и половину мая провёл в деревне и кончал «Чародейку». Около 15 мая поехал в Петербург для свидания с при смерти больным другом моим Н. Д. Кондратьевым. Через неделю уехал в Москву, а оттуда в Нижний и по Волге до Астрахани, по Каспийскому морю до Баку и, наконец, по железной дороге в Тифлис. Тут я прожил около 2 недель, причём был свидетелем бешеных оваций тифлисцев в честь Савиной (мне говорили однако ж, что овации Павловской несколько лет тому назад были ещё бешенее). Из Тифлиса, вместе с семьёй брата, переехали в Боржом. Были ли Вы в этом очаровательном уголке? По-моему, это одно из самых божественно-чудных мест в Мире. Там мы, чудесно устроились; я делал ежедневные большие прогулки, пил воды (вроде Виши), брал ванны, читал, чуточку занимался, — словом, предавался самому сладкому отдыху. Туда же приехал и брат Модест, и мы жили в самом тесном семейном кружке, среди невыразимо красивой природы, как у Христа за пазухой. Но ничто не прочно под луной. В один прекрасный день получается телеграмма из Аахена. Оказалось, что моего больного друга, полумёртвого, из Петербурга отправили в Аахен, где он почувствовал себя на волос от смерти и в страшной тоске одиночества на чужбине. В телеграмме он умолял меня, если можно, приехать. Я немедленно отправился в Батум, сел на пароход, плыл 4 суток до Одессы и оттуда, чрезвычайно быстрыми поездами, через Вену и Нюренберг, приехал около недели тому назад в Ахен. Все это совершилось так быстро, разница между Боржомом и Аахеном так бесконечно велика, что я до сих пор ещё в себя не прихожу. Дорогой я очень тосковал. Здесь приходится, так много думать о моем бедном больном, — что некогда грустить. Я нисколько не раскаиваюсь, что приехал, ибо оказалось, что присутствие моё не только приятно, — но просто необходимо.

Очень радуюсь, дорогая Эмилия Карловна, что партия «Чародейки» Вам по душе, и очень удивляюсь, что она показалась Вам низка. Неужели оно в самом деле так? Если пожелаете, я могу кое-что для Вас переделать. Пожалуйста, голубушка, не стесняйтесь. Славина совершенно необходима для Княгини; ведь я имел её в виду, и ей грешно будет отказываться.

Потрудитесь передать от меня г. Egidio Cora, что я его тоже помню и что я очень тронут его сочувствием. У меня с собой фотографий нет, но даю честное слово прислать из России. Кстати. Как Вы думаете, когда мне нужно быть в Петербурге? Я этого не знаю. Дирижировать буду непременно сам.

Не пишу Вам больше, ибо сейчас нужно идти к больному, которому будут вырезать какую то флюктуацию. Не весело мне. Будьте здоровы, дорогая благодетельница! Целую Ваши ручки.

Ваш, П. Чайковский

Кланяйтесь Сергею Евграфович и чудным глазкам.

Напишите мне в ответ хоть коротенькую записочку и скажите мне, когда мне нужно быть в Питере.

23 July 1887
Aachen, Neubad, 21

Golubushka Emiliya Karlovna!

I was extremely gladdened by your letter — I had long been eager to have some news about my benefactress [1], but I didn't know where to write to. You will of course be surprised that I have ended up in Aachen, in the most boring and revolting little town on earth. So that you can understand how, and from where, I got here, I shall tell you in brief everything that has happened to me since I last saw you. I spent the end of Lent, Holy Week, all of April, and the first half of May in the country, finishing off The Enchantress. Around 15 May I set off for Petersburg to visit my fatally ill friend N. D. Kondratyev. After a week I left for Moscow, and from there went to Nizhny, then down the Volga to Astrakhan, then sailed across the Caspian Sea to Baku, and, finally, arrived in Tiflis by train. I stayed there for about two weeks and witnessed, by the way, the frenetic ovations which the inhabitants of Tiflis accorded to Savina [2]. (I was told, though, that the ovations for Pavlovskaya a few years ago were even more frenetic.) From Tiflis I went to Borzhom together with my brother and his family. Have you ever been to this enchanting little spot? In my opinion it is one of the most divinely glorious places in the world. We settled in wonderfully there: I went on long daily walks, drank the waters (like at Vichy), took baths, read, worked a little — in short, I indulged in the sweetest relaxation. My brother Modest also came there, and we all lived together in clover, that is, in the most tightly-knit family circle, surrounded by inexpressibly beautiful Nature. But nothing under the moon is permanent. One fine day a telegram arrived from Aachen. It turned out that my ailing friend had been taken, half-dead as he was, from Petersburg to Aachen, where he soon felt himself to be within a hair's breadth of death and was terribly depressed at being all alone in a foreign country. In this telegram he implored me to come to him if possible. I set off immediately for Batum, boarded a steamship, reached Odessa after a sea crossing of four days, and from there I made my way here, via Vienna and Nuremberg, on some extraordinarily fast trains — I arrived in Aachen about a week ago. All this happened so quickly, the difference between Borzhom and Aachen is so infinitely big, that I still haven't recovered my senses. During the journey I was very depressed. Here I have to think so much about my poor invalid that there's no time for being sad. I do not at all regret having come here, because, as it has turned out, my presence is not only welcome, but downright indispensable.

I am very glad, dear Emiliya Karlovna, that the part of the Enchantress is to your liking, though I am very surprised that you find it too low [3]. Can it really be so? If you wish, I can modify one or two things for you. Please don't be afraid to tell me, golubushka. It is absolutely essential that we have Slavina for the Princess — after all, I wrote that part with her in mind, and she cannot turn it down just like that [4].

Be so kind as to tell Signor Egidio Cora that I also remember him and that I am very touched by his sympathy. I don't have any photographs on me now, but I give my word of honour that I will send him one from Russia [5]. By the way, when do you think that I should come to Petersburg? I just don't know. I shall definitely be conducting [6].

I won't add anything more to this letter, because I have to go and see the patient now: he is going to have a fluctuation removed surgically [7]. I don't feel very cheerful. Bless you, dear benefactress. I kiss your hands.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Give my regards to Sergey Yevgrafovich and the wonderful little eyes [8].

Please reply to me, even if it is just a brief little note, and tell me when I have to come to Piter [9].

Notes and References

  1. 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.
  2. Mariya Gavrilovna Savina (1854–1915), famous Russian actress. During his stay in Tiflis Tchaikovsky made the following entries in his diary: "At the theatre. Benefit performance for Savina. Ovation. Frenzy" (1/13 June 1887); "Dinner in honour of Savina at the Circle. Speeches" (6/18 June); "Farewell performance of Savina" (8/20 June) — note by Vasily Kiselev in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 391; diary entries quoted here from The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1973), p. 179, 181.
  3. In her letter to Tchaikovsky of 11/23 July 1887 (sent from Roncegno in Italy), Emiliya Pavlovskaya reported that she was studying The Enchantress and that she was delighted with the title-role. She pointed out, though, that its tessitura was very low, so that it was in effect like a mezzo-soprano role, but added that she hoped to be able to cope with this. Pavlovskaya's letter has been published in Чайковский на московской сцене (1940), p. 387–389.
  4. In her letter of 11/23 July 1887 Pavlovskaya wrote that the mezzo-soprano Mariya Slavina, after seeing how low the tessitura of Kuma/Nastasya's part was, had expressed an interest in singing this role rather than that of the Princess, because she was tired of playing old ladies and worthy matrons.
  5. In her letter of 11/23 July 1887 Pavlovskaya said that she had met a young Italian music critic who was a fervent admirer of Tchaikovsky's music, owned almost all of his published works, and had organized concerts in Turin to present his symphonies to the Italian public. Moreover, this Italian had told Pavlovskaya that he knew Tchaikovsky personally, as they had met at the Bayreuth Festival in the summer of 1876. Pavlovskaya did not mention the Italian's name in her letter, but Tchaikovsky evidently still remembered him.
  6. At the premiere of The Enchantress.
  7. Nikolay Kondratyev was suffering from dropsy. Fluctuation in medicine refers to a collection of fluid inside some cavity that can be felt by touch.
  8. This note was written down the side of the page. 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. The "wonderful little eyes" were those of Pavlovskaya's sister, Yelena.
  9. This note was written at the top of the first page of the letter.