Letter 3435

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 15/27 December 1887
Addressed to Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich
Where written Saint Petersburg
Language Russian
Autograph Location Saint Petersburg (Russia): Institute of Russian Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Pushkin House), Manuscript Department (ф. 137, No. 78/5)
Publication Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1902), p. 191–192
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 290–291
К.Р. Избранная переписка (1999), p. 38-39

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Ваше Императорское Высочество!

Обстоятельства сложились так, что мне невозможно было иметь счастье видеть Вас, ибо, если бы даже я и явился бы завтра для представления Вам, то наперёд знаю, что не буду принят; ибо завтра Вы, как я слышал из верного источника, будете на отпевании и погребении адмирала Казакевича. К несчастью, ни вчера, ни сегодня я не имел никакой возможности явиться к Вам в такой час, когда Вы изволите принимать посетителей. Между тем, я имею нечто, что желал сообщить Вам устно, но принуждён изложить письменно. Я написал недавно шесть романсов на тексты симпатичного и полного живого поэтического чувства поэта К*** Р***. Писал я их при особенно неблагоприятных условиях и боюсь, что романсы эти не понравятся Вам. Тем не менее я позволю себе испросить Вашего разрешения посвятить их Вашему Высочеству. В настоящее время романсы эти гравируются, и я осмелюсь просить Ваше Высочество приказать выдать моему издателю (П. И. Юргенсону, Москва, Неглинный проезд, № 10) официальное разрешение мне посвятить их Вашему Императорскому Высочеству. Завтра я уезжаю на несколько месяцев по делам за границу и в довольно отдалённом будущем буду иметь возможность устно передать Вам глубочайшую благодарность за дозволение посвятить Вам последнее произведение моё.

Покорнейше прося Ваше Высочество передать Великой княгине Елизавете Маврикиевне выражение моего нижайшего почтения, имею честь быть Вашего Императорского Высочества покорнейший слуга.

П. Чайковский

15 декабря 1887

Your Imperial Highness!

Circumstances have turned out such that it is impossible for me to have the good fortune of seeing you, because even if I were to come tomorrow to be presented to you, I know in advance that you wouldn't be able to receive me. For tomorrow, as I have heard from a reliable source, you will be attending the burial service for Admiral Kazakevich [1]. Unfortunately, both today and yesterday I have had no opportunity whatsoever to come to see you at a time when you deign to receive visitors. And yet, I have something I would like to tell you orally, but which I am forced to set forth in writing. I have recently written six romances on texts by the poet K*** R*** [2], who is so appealing and full of lively poetic feeling. I wrote them in particularly unfavourable conditions [3], and I fear that the romances may not please you. Nevertheless, I shall take the liberty of requesting your permission to dedicate them to Your Highness. The romances are presently being engraved, and I make so bold as to ask Your Highness to arrange for my publisher (P. I. Jurgenson, Moscow, Neglinny Road, No. 10) to be issued with an official confirmation that I have been granted permission to dedicate them to Your Imperial Highness. Tomorrow I am going abroad on business for a few months [4], and it is in a rather distant future that I shall have the opportunity to convey to you in person my gratitude for the permission to dedicate to you my latest work.

After most humbly asking Your Highness to convey to the Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Mavrikyevna [5] an assurance of my most humble respect, I have the honour of remaining Your Imperial Highness's most humble servant.

P. Tchaikovsky

15 December 1887

Notes and References

  1. Pyotr Vasilyevich Kazakevich (1814-1887), vice-admiral, aide-de-camp, and member of the Admiralty Council.
  2. i.e. by Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich himself. The texts used by Tchaikovsky for the Six Romances, Op. 63, were taken from poems in the Grand Duke's first book of verse (published in 1886). As a member of the imperial family, Konstantin was expected to engage in no public activities other than those which fell within the sphere of military and administrative service or which were of a purely representative nature, and so in order to be able to publish his literary works he had to use the nom-de-plume "K. R.". The identity of the author hiding behind this cipher was an open secret, though, and some of the Grand Duke's poems (including those set to music by composers such as Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Glazunov, and Nápravník) would attain considerable popularity. In Soviet times, however, the name of "K. R." was omitted from histories of Russian literature and his books were removed from libraries.
  3. Tchaikovsky's latest opera Cherevichki, which had been received enthusiastically by Moscow audiences at its premiere earlier that year, had turned out to be a "real flop" when first staged in Saint Petersburg on 20 October/1 November 1887. See Letter 3419 to Nadezhda von Meck, 25 November/7 December 1887 — note by L. K. Khitrovo in К.Р. Избранная переписка (1999), p. 39.
  4. After the unsuccessful performances of Cherevichki in Saint Petersburg Tchaikovsky went to Moscow and thence returned to Maydanovo. He next came to the imperial capital to conduct a Russian Musical Society concert on 12/24 December 1887, which featured the first performance in Saint Petersburg of his Suite No. 4 ("Mozartiana"), before leaving for Berlin three days later in order to embark on his first concert tour of Western Europe as a conductor of his own works (with concert stops in Leipzig, Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Paris, and London).
  5. Grand Duchess Yelizaveta Mavrikyevna (née Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg; 1865-1927) was the wife of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and a niece of his mother, Grand Duchess Aleksandra Iosifovna — note by L. K. Khitrovo in К.Р. Избранная переписка (1999), p. 39.