Letter 3462

Date 6/18 January 1888
Addressed to Félix Mackar
Where written Hamburg
Language French
Autograph Location Paris (France): Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département de la Musique
Publication Revue de musicologie, tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 66
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 327–328.

Text and Translation

French text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Hambourg 18 Janvier 1888

Cher ami !

Votre lettre m'a causé le plus vif plaisir. Certainement ce que Vous venez d'arranger est on ne peut mieux ; cela nous épargnes un infinité d'embarras et cela nous assure un grand et vrai public. Je Vous remercie de tout mon cœur pour la peine que Vous Vous êtes donné et pour l'habilité diplomatique que Vous avez déployée.

Pensez donc ! Deux fois chez Colonne, – mais c'est la réalisation d'un rêve.

Pour le programme je viens d'écrire à Colonne. Si c'est pour les deux concerts le même, ce sera:

1) Serénade pour cordes
2) Concert par Diémer
3) Franceska

Si c'est pour les deux un programme différent,—ce sera pour le 2-me:

1) Ouverture Roméo
2) Chant, ou bien morceaux de piano ou bien encore l'andante de l'op. 11
3) Suite № 3

Certainement Colonne pourra changer tout qu'il voudra.

Mon succès de Leipzig a été très grand. Excepte celui que j'ai obtenu au Gewandhaus, j'ai eu là un succès eclatant au Liszt-Verein, société de musique fondée en l'honneur de Liszt dans laquelle a eu lieu un concert de musique de chambre avec grande pompe[,] applaudissement[s] frénetiques, couronne, etc.

J'ai eu deux répetitions du Concert de la Société Philarmonique de Hambourg. Demain aura lieu la répetion avec le public et après demain le concert. Les musiciens de l'orchestre sont pleins d'egards simpathiques pour moi. Ici c'est tout à fait comme chez Colonne[,] c'est à dire que la deuxième moitié du concert est pour moi. Je V[ou]s envoie l'annonce. Je V[ou]s enverrai aussi le programme. J'ai perdu celui de Leipzig. Le 8 grand concert à Berlin exclusivement consacré à moi. Merci, merci encore[,] cher et bon ami !

Au revoir,

P. Tschaïkovsky

Hommages respectueux à M[ada]me Mackar.

J'ai reçu il y a trois jours la nouvelle que l'Empereur m'a accordé une pension de 3000 roubles pour la vie.

Hamburg 18 January 1888

Dear friend!

Your letter has afforded me the most vivid pleasure. The arrangement you have just made is certainly the best possible one: it spares us from a multitude of inconveniences, and guarantees that we will have a big and real audience [1]. I thank you with all my heart for the trouble you have taken and for the diplomatic skill which you have deployed. Just think! Two concerts at Colonne's—why, that is a dream come true!

As regards the programme, I have just written to Colonne [2]. If it is to be the same for both concerts, then it shall be as follows:

1) Serenade for Strings
2) Concerto, played by Diémer
3) Francesca

If each concert is to have a different programme, then the second one shall be:

1) Romeo overture
2) Songs, or piano pieces, or, alternatively, the Andante from Op. 11
3) Suite No. 3

Of course, Colonne is free to amend anything he wishes to [3].

My success in Leipzig was very considerable. Apart from that I achieved at the Gewandhaus, I also had a resounding success at the Liszt-Verein—a musical society established in Liszt's honour where a concert of my chamber music took place, with great pomp, frenetic applause, a wreath etc [4].

I have had two rehearsals for my concert with the Hamburg Philharmonic Society. Tomorrow is the rehearsal at which the public is invited, and the day after tomorrow is the concert [5]. The orchestra players are very well-disposed towards me. The arrangement here is exactly the same as at Colonne's, that is the second half of the concert has been reserved for me. I am sending you the notice. I will also send you the programme. I've lost the one for the Leipzig concert [6]. On the 8th I have a big concert in Berlin exclusively devoted to my works [7]. Once again many, many thanks, dear and kind friend!

Until we meet,

P. Tchaikovsky

My respectful compliments to Madme Mackar [8].

Three days ago I received the news that the Emperor has granted me a lifetime annuity of 3,000 rubles [9].

Notes and References

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

[8]

  1. 1.0 1.1 In his letter from Paris on 3/15 January 1888 Mackar had informed Tchaikovsky of the outcome of his negotiations with Colonne: they had decided that at the two Châtelet concerts scheduled for 28 February/11 March and 6/18 March 1888 respectively the second half of each one would be devoted to Tchaikovsky's works, with the composer himself conducting. Never before, Mackar added, had Colonne yielded his baton to a foreign musician; that was something he had so far only done for Gounod, Massenet, and Saint-Saëns. Moreover, Colonne offered him the services of his orchestra and of the Théâtre Châtelet for free, though he did reserve to himself the right to modify Tchaikovsky's proposed programme. Mackar emphasized how important this gesture on Colonne's part was, since with it went a venue that could accommodate 2,800 people and all the publicity of the Châtelet concerts. Mackar's letter has been published (in Russian translation only) in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 156–157.
  2. 2.0 2.1 This particular letter from Tchaikovsky to Colonne has not come to light. However, the Frenchman's reply has survived: it is dated 8/20 January 1888, and in it Colonne explained that he would think about Tchaikovsky's proposed programmes and let him know his decision as soon as possible. Tchaikovsky had evidently also told him that he aimed to arrive in Paris on 11/23 February, because in his letter Colonne wrote that he would prefer it if Tchaikovsky's first guest appearance on the conductor's rostrum took place at the earlier Châtelet concert on 21 February/4 March, the second one then being at the following Sunday's concert on 28 February/11 March. These would indeed be the two dates at which Tchaikovsky conducted Colonne's orchestra in the Théâtre Châtelet. See Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 216.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The programmes of the two concerts were indeed different, with most of the works proposed by Tchaikovsky here being featured (though in a different order). However, Louis Diémer did not ultimately perform the Piano Concerto No. 1, as Tchaikovsky had hoped, but the Concert Fantasia instead.
  4. 4.0 4.1 During the first half of the 19th subscription concert at the Leipzig Gewandhaus on 24 December 1887/5 January 1888 Tchaikovsky had successfully conducted his Suite No. 1 (this was his first appearance as a conductor outside Russia). The soirée in Tchaikovsky's honour given by the Liszt-Verein took place in the auditorium of the old Gewandhaus the following day: alongside the Piano Trio and String Quartet No. 1, performed by various Leipzig-based German and foreign musicians, Aleksandr Ziloti also played some solo piano pieces, including the Barcarolle from The Seasons and a fantasia on themes from Yevgeny Onegin. Tchaikovsky described both these events in Chapters VII and VIII of his Autobiographical Account of a Tour Abroad in the Year 1888.
  5. 5.0 5.1 During the second half of the Hamburg Philharmonic Society concert of 8/20 January 1888 Tchaikovsky would conduct a programme of his works, including the Serenade for String Orchestra, the Piano Concerto No. 1 (soloist Vasily Sapelnikov), and the Theme and Variations from the Suite No. 3. This concert was received less warmly by the conservative Hamburg audience.
  6. 6.0 6.1 In his letter of 3/15 January 1888 Mackar had asked Tchaikovsky to send him the programme notes for the concerts at which he had appeared so far, so that he could supply the Parisian press with information about the composer's successes in Germany.
  7. 7.0 7.1 On 27 January/8 February Tchaikovsky would conduct the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert of his own works, including the overture-fantasia Romeo and Juliet, the Piano Concerto No. 1 (soloist Aleksandr Ziloti), the Introduction and Fugue from Suite No. 1, the Andante cantabile from String Quartet No. 1, four songs (soloist Aline Friede), and the festival overture The Year 1812. It proved to be a great success.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Tchaikovsky wrote this note in the margin of the last page. Mackar's wife, Valérie. When he arrived in Paris four weeks later Tchaikovsky would present her with one of the prints of the portrait taken of him by the Hamburg photographer E. Bieber on the same day as the above letter. 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.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Tchaikovsky wrote this note in the margin of the first page of the letter.