Letter 3430

Date 6/18 December 1887
Addressed to Félix Mackar
Where written Maydanovo
Language French
Autograph Location Paris (France): Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département de la Musique
Publication Revue de musicologie, tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 63–65
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 284–286.

Text and Translation

French text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Maïdanowo, 6/12 Déc[embre] 1887

Mon cher ami !

Je suis tout prêt de payer le cachet de 300 fr que demande Marsick ; mais il y a à propos de cela une chose qui m'inquiète. Vous souvenez V[ou]s que cette bonne Marie Tayau m'avait fait promettre de la faire jouer à mon concert si jamais j'en donnai un à Paris et Je le lui avais promis. Je sais que Marsick nous va davantage et je tiens énormément à lui, mais comment faire pour que M[ademoise]lle Tayau ne m'en veuille pas trop. Elle a été vraiement si bonne pour moi. Faut-il que je l'offense et la blesse aussi profondément ? Ne pourriez Vous pas prendre sur Vous de lui expliquer comment tout cela s'est fait ? Ne pourrai-je pas faire tomber sur Votre tête ses anathèmes et ses justes imprécations, en disant que cela n'est pas de ma faute, que Mr Mackar a été chargé par moi d'arranger le programme du concert et que c'est lui qui etc. etc. etc… Enfin voyez ce qu'il y a faire dans cette complication.

Je ne demande pas mieux que d'ecrire quelquechose pour Taffanel et je lui promets formellement, mais sans préciser l'époque. Dès aujourd'hui je vai penser à cela.

Voici comment je pense composer le programme : (Tournez s'il V[ous] pl[ait])

1) Mozartiana
2) Piano (concerto № 1 ???)
3) Valse et And[ante] de la Sérénade à archet
4) Violon – Marsick (Concerto ?)
5) Chant ???
6) Violoncelle/Brandoukoff
7) Franceska da Rimini
ou bien
1) Francesca
2) Piano
3) Andante du 1-er quatuor (cordes)
4) Chant
5) Violon
6) Suite № 3 (Cette Suite fait beaucoup d'effet)

NB A la rigueur on pourrait se passer de Brandoukoff, car je n'ai rien fait de très bon pour le violoncelle.

ou bien encore
1) Franceska da Rimini
2) Piano
3) Violoncelle
4) Mozartiana
5) Chant
6) Violon
7) Variations tirées de la Suite № 3

Je Vous assure, mon cher ami, que je trouve beaucoup de difficultés pour arreter définitivement le programme et que Vous devez m'aider dans cette affaire. Sachez une chose, c'est que si j'avais trois concerts à donner, je saurais bien composer le programme. Mais un concert – c'est diablement difficile. De toutes mes œuvres je considère les suivantes comme les plus capables de plaire au public Parisien 1) Suite № 1 ; 2) Suite № 3 ; 3) Francesca da Rimini (surtout pour finir) 4) Sérénade à archets 5) Mozartiana 6) andante du 1 quatuor ; 7) Roméo. Maintenant on pourrait aussi faire des fragments d'opera, mais alors il faut les chœurs, les solistes, etc.

Cher ami, tâchez de composer des trois programmes que je V[ou]s envoie un programme qui réunisse tout ce qu'il y a de plus capable de plaire, mais dans tous les cas je tiens à Francesca et surtout pour finir.

Il y a aussi le Cappriccio Italien par lequel on pourrait commencer, ou bien finir le concert, mais alors avec Francesca – ce serait deux morceaux italiens ?!!… L'ouverture Romeo et Juliette irait bien aussi, – mais c'est encore l"Italie et l"amour italien. Dans trois jours je pars pour Petersbourg ; j'y conduis Mozartiana le 24 Décembre* ; le 5 Janvier concert au Gewandhaus à Leipzick ; le 14 à Dresde ; le 20 – Hambourg ; le 24 Copenhague ; le 9 Février Berlin ; le 19 Prague. De là directement à Paris, mais au mois d'Avril j'ai une invitation de la Société Philharmonique de Londres. Écrivez-moi dès aujourd'hui à Berlin, Bote et Bock, Leipziger Strasse No 37. Je chargerai Bock de faire suivre les lettres partout où je me trouverai. Adieu, cher ami ! Mille choses à M[ada]me Mackar.

P. Tschaïkovsky

P. S. M[ademois]elle Wera Timanoff, pianiste russe très célèbre, me prie de la faire jouer à mon concert. J'ai répondu que Mr Diémer était déjà invité. Alors, espérant que peut-être j'en donnerai encore un, elle me supplie de l'avoir en vue pour un deuxième Concert. Qui sait ? Peut-être en donnerons nous un effectivement ; alors je ne demande pas mieux que de faire jouer la Timanoff. Elle craint que V[ou]s n'invitiez quelqu'un avant elle et me prie de V[ou]s faire savoir que je l'ai en vue. Pour la salle faites comme Vous voudrez.


* Toutes les dâtes sont d'après le style français. Comme morceau russe on pourrait prendre des airs de ballet de Mazeppa.

Maydanovo, 6/18 December 1887

My dear friend!

I am quite prepared to pay the fee of 300 francs which Marsick is asking for [1]. However, in this regard there is something that worries me. Do you remember how that kind Marie Tayau asked me to promise to let her play at my concert if I ever gave one in Paris, and how I promised her that?[2] I know that Marsick suits us better, and I set tremendous store by him, but what can we do so that Mademoiselle Tayau doesn't get too cross with me? For she has been so kind towards me. Is it really necessary that I should offend and hurt her so deeply? Could you not undertake to explain to her how all this has come about? Could I not let all her curses and legitimate imprecations fall upon your shoulders by telling her that this is not my fault, that I asked Monsieur Mackar to work out the programme of the concert and that it is he who etc. etc. etc... In short, see what can be done in this complicated matter.

I could not ask for anything better than to write something for Taffanel, and I formally promise him to do so, though without specifying when. I shall bear it in mind from this day onwards [3].

Here is how I am thinking of drawing up the programme:[4] (please turn over)

1) Mozartiana
2) Piano (Concerto No. 1???)
3) Valse and Andante from the Serenade for strings
4) Violin – Marsick (Concerto?)
5) Songs ???
6) Cello/Brandukov
7) Francesca da Rimini
or, alternatively
1) Francesca
2) Piano
3) Andante from the 1st Quartet (strings)
4) Songs
5) Violin
6) Suite No. 3 (This suite is most effective)

NB. Strictly speaking, we could do without Brandukov, since I haven't written anything for the cello that is particularly outstanding [5].

or as yet another alternative
1) Francesca da Rimini
2) Piano
3) Cello
4) Mozartiana
5) Songs
6) Violin 
7) Variations from the Suite No. 3

I assure you, my dear friend, that I find it very difficult to settle on the definitive programme, and that you must help me in this matter. Do you know what: if I had to give three concerts, then I would be able to draw up the programme without any trouble. But one concert only—that is devilishly difficult. Of all my works I consider the following to be the most capable of pleasing the Parisian public: 1) Suite No. 1; 2) Suite No. 3; 3) Francesca da Rimini (especially to close the concert); 4) Serenade for Strings; 5) Mozartiana; 6) the Andante from the 1st Quartet; 7) Romeo. Now we could also include some excerpts from my operas, but that would mean having to find choruses, soloists etc.

Dear friend, try to draw up from the three programmes I am sending you one that brings together all the works that are most likely to please—though in all cases I would like to have Francesca, especially to close the concert.

There is also the Italian Capriccio which could be used to open, or even to close, the concert, but then together with Francesca, that would mean two Italian pieces?!!… The Romeo and Juliet overture would also be suitable, but that again means Italy and Italian love. I am leaving for Petersburg in three days' time; there I am due to conduct Mozartiana on the 24th of December*; on the 5th of January I have a concert at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig; on the 14th in Dresden [6]; on the 20th in Hamburg; on the 24th in Copenhagen [7]; on the 9th of February in Berlin [8]; on the 19th in Prague. From there I am heading directly for Paris, but for April I have received an invitation from the London Philharmonic Society. Starting from today, write to me at Berlin, Bote & Bock, 37 Leipziger Strasse. I shall ask Bock to forward all letters to me wherever I happen to be. Goodbye, dear friend! A thousand kind regards for Madame Mackar [9].

P. Tchaikovsky

P. S. Mademoiselle Vera Timanova, a very famous Russian pianist, asked me to let her play in my concert. I replied that Monsieur Diémer had already been engaged. Then, in the hope that I might perhaps give one more concert, she begged me to keep her in mind for such a second concert. Who knows? Perhaps we will indeed give a second one—in that case I could not ask for anything better than to let Timanova play. She is afraid that you might engage someone else before her, and asks me to let you know that I am counting on her [10]. As regards the venue, I leave that up to you.


* All the dates are according to French style. By way of a Russian piece we could use the ballet music from Mazepa.

Notes and References

<references> [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

[10]

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Belgian violinist Martin Pierre Marsick (1848–1924) would appear as the soloist in the first performance in France of the Violin Concerto (though apparently only of the first movement) at the Châtelet concert conducted by Tchaikovsky on 28 February/11 March 1888.
  2. 2.0 2.1 In his letter of 8/20 January 1886, Mackar had observed how "I found Marie Tayau tremendously keen to perform your music, and this is something to which I must draw your attention in particular. Wherever she performs, she will always consider it her duty to play Tchaikovsky". The violinist had been one of the musicians who took part in the recital of Tchaikovsky's works organized by Mackar at the Salle Érard on 2/14 January 1886.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tchaikovsky would never get round to writing the Flute Concerto that he promised to the French virtuoso flautist Claude Paul Taffanel, although after his death some tentative sketches relating to a work for flute and orchestra were found among his manuscripts.
  4. 4.0 4.1 For details of the definitive programmes, dates, and venues of Tchaikovsky's concerts in the French capital, see the entry on Paris.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tchaikovsky's friend and former student Anatoly Brandukov would in fact appear as the soloist in two pieces specially arranged for him for cello and orchestra by the composer just in time for these concerts in Paris: the Andante cantabile and the Nocturne.
  6. 6.0 6.1 This concert did not in fact take place.
  7. 7.0 7.1 This concert did not take place, and in fact Tchaikovsky never visited the Danish capital.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Tchaikovsky's concert at the Berlin Philharmonic Society actually took place on 27 January/8 February 1888.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mackar's wife, Valérie. In 1888, Tchaikovsky would dedicate to her one of the prints made by the Hamburg photographer E. Bieber on 6/18 January 1888. He wrote on it the following inscription: "Madame Valérie Mackar souvenir affectueux" and sketched three bars from the Andante cantabile of his String Quartet No. 1. See Revue de musicologie, tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 94. The portrait in question appears as Photo No. 60 in our Catalogue of Photographs.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Although Tchaikovsky was indeed given the chance to conduct at two Châtelet concerts in Paris during his stay there in February–March 1888, only one of these (the first one on 21 February/4 March) featured one of his works for piano and orchestra: it was neither of the two piano concertos, however, but the Concert Fantasia instead. The soloist was Louis Diémer.