Letter 3877

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 16/28 June 1889
Addressed to Adolph Brodsky
Where written Frolovskoye
Language Russian
Autograph Location Manchester (England): Royal Northern College of Music, The Library
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XV-А (1976), p. 131
Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 128

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Адрес для писем:
Моск[овская] губ[ерния], гор[од] Клин
16 июня 1889 г[ода]

Милый друг Адольф!

Получил твоё письмо. Во-первых, очень радуюсь, что ты во всяком случае играешь в моём концерте 28 октября. Кстати, сообщу тебе программу оного.

Отд[еление] 1-е

1) Симфония D-dur Моцарта.
2) Бродский играет мой концерт, но, впрочем Это, вовсе не необходимо, чтобы именно мой концерт, — можешь какой угодно.
3) Passe-pied и Гавот из оп[еры] "Идоменей" Моцарта.

Отд[еление] 2-е

1) Увертюра Фантазия "Гамлет" Чайковского.
2) Бродский играет мелкие вещи с фортепиано.

3) Увертюра "Жирондисты" Литольфа.

Теперь насчёт квартета, признаюсь тебе, что я, кажется, анонсировал дирекции 4 вечера. Но это совершенно всё равно. Условия, во всяком случае, остаются те же. Я думаю, что ввиду краткости вашего пребывания в России, пожалуй, 4-го вечера и нельзя будет дать. Что касается Петербурга, то было бы чистым безумием, если бы вы не воспользовались случаем, чтобы и там поиграть. Непременно нужно, чтобы и Петербург вас узнал.

Не находишь ли ты, что если первый вечер будет 27-го октября, то это несколько уменьшит блеск твоего выхода в концерте на следующий день. Впрочем, как знаешь. Только бы нужно по возможности заранее назначить дни квартетных вечеров, дабы залу можно было ранее задержать. Я ужасно радуюсь и тому, что ты в моём концерте участвуешь, и тому, что устраиваются ваши камерные сеансы. Необходимо, чтобы Анна Львовна и Ольга Львовна приехали к тому времени в Москву. На месте Анны Львовны я до этого времени остался бы в деревне, а потом, вместе с тобой, в Лейпциг.

Ты спрашиваешь, что я делаю? Я прикован к письменному столу и с невероятным напряжением работаю, чтобы успеть вовремя кончить партитуру балета, который обязался написать к началу сезона в Петербурге.

Обнимаю тебя, голубчик!

Целую ручки Анны и Ольги Львовных!

Твой, П. Чайковский

Address for letters:
Moscow province, town of Klin
16 June 1889

Adolph, dear friend!

I have received your letter [1]. First of all, I am very glad that you will in any case be playing in my concert on 28 October. By the way, let me give you the programme of the latter.

1st section

1) Symphony in D major by Mozart.
2) Brodsky plays my concerto, though, come to think of it, this it is by no means essential that it should be mine as such—you can play whatever concerto you like.
3) Passepied and Gavotte from the opera Idomeneo by Mozart.

2nd section

1) Overture Fantasia Hamlet by Tchaikovsky.
2) Brodsky plays small pieces with piano accompaniment.
3) Overture to Les Girondistes by Litolff [2].

Now, as regards your quartet, I confess that, if I'm not mistaken, I spoke of four soirées to the board of directors [3]. However, it doesn't make any difference. The terms are to be the same in any case. I think that, bearing in mind how short your stay in Russia will be, it may not even turn out to be feasible for you to give a fourth soirée. As for Petersburg, it would be sheer folly if you were not to avail yourselves of the opportunity to play there as well. It is absolutely necessary that Petersburg too should get to know you.

Don't you think that if the first soirée takes place on the 27th of October, that might somewhat diminish the lustre of your appearance in the concert on the following day? Anyway, you know best. We must, though, try to decide on the dates of the quartet soirées in advance so that we can book a venue as soon as possible. I am awfully glad to have you taking part in my concert, and also that your chamber music sessions are going to work out. It is essential that Anna Lvovna and Olga Lvovna [4] come to Moscow by that time. If I were Anna Lvovna I would stay in the countryside until then, and afterwards go to Leipzig together with you [5].

You ask what I'm getting up to. I am fettered to my writing-desk and am working with unbelievable intensity so as to be able to finish in time the score of a ballet [6] which I have pledged myself to write for the start of the season in Petersburg.

I embrace you, golubchik!

I kiss the hands of Anna Lvovna and Olga Lvovna.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. In his letter from Leipzig on 6/18 June 1889 Adolph Brodsky had confirmed that he would be playing at the Russian Musical Society concert which Tchaikovsky was scheduled to conduct in Moscow on 28 October/9 November 1889. Brodsky's letter has been published in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 128.
  2. The second section of this programme was altered considerably. The final programme of the concert conducted by Tchaikovsky in Moscow on 28 October/9 November was as follows: a symphony in D major by Mozart, Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, two dances from Mozart's opera Idomeneo, the first performance of the overture to Sergey Taneyev's opera Oresteia, an Adagio for solo violin by Spohr, a Spanish Dance for solo violin by Sarasate, and Glinka's Jota aragonesa. Brodsky was the soloist in the Violin Concerto and he also performed those pieces by Spohr and Sarasate. It is interesting that Tchaikovsky had originally intended to feature the overture to Les Girondistes by the Anglo-French composer and piano virtuoso Henry-Charles Litolff (1818–1891). This overture had been a favourite of Tchaikovsky's ever since his youth, and indeed Laroche suggested that it had to some extent influenced his friend's compositional career: "Many of my readers will be surprised when I tell them that one of Pyotr Ilyichs's most intense passions in these youthful years was Henry Litolff or, rather, his two overtures, Robespierre and Les Girondistes, especially the second of these. One can say, without any exaggeration, that Tchaikovsky's infatuation with programme music, which haunted him all his life, began precisely with these two overtures, as well as with Meyerbeer's overture to Struensee". See П. И. Чайковский в Петербургской консерваторий (1980), p. 55.
  3. Brodsky had set up his own string quartet in Leipzig a few years earlier (this ensemble was known as the "Leipzig Quartet"). At the time of this letter its grouping included the following players: Brodsky (first violin), Hans Becker (second violin), Ottokar Nováček (viola), and Julius Klengel (cello). In his letter of 6/18 June 1889 Brodsky had suggested some dates for the three soirées which he assumed they would be playing in Moscow during the forthcoming season, and he also raised the possibility of playing in Saint Petersburg. In the end, the schedule of the Leipzig Quartet's Russian tour turned out to be as follows: four chamber music soirées in Moscow on 31 October/12 November, 3/15 November, 7/19 November, and 10/22 November 1889, and one in Saint Petersburg on 16/28 November 1889. Note based on information provided in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 242.
  4. Olga Lvovna Skadovskaya (married name: Picard; c. 1856–1940), younger sister of Adolph Brodsky's wife Anna. After completing her secondary education at a gymnasium in Kherson, she helped her sister Anna to teach peasant children at the school founded by the latter on their family's estate at Belozerka. She subsequently went with Anna to Paris, where they both enrolled at the Sorbonne, attended scientific lectures and worked at various laboratories. It was during the two sisters' stay in the French capital (1872–74) that Olga married her teacher, the chemist Gabriel Picard. They had a son who was christened Léon in honour of Olga's father, but in 1888 they divorced. Over the following years Olga was actively involved in revolutionary propaganda in Kherson province and often had to go into hiding. The tsarist secret police arrested her on several occasions and she was banished from her native district. Her brother Georgy Lvovich Skadovsky (1847–1919) managed to bail her out a number of times and get her released from prison. After the October Revolution in 1917 she lived in Odessa for a while, but in 1924 the Soviet authorities allowed her to emigrate to England so that she could join her sister Anna. She lived at the Brodskys' house in Bowdon, Cheshire, near Manchester (where her brother-in-law was principal of the Royal College of Music), until her death in 1940. Note based on information provided in Marina Stroganova's essay on the Skadovsky family in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 200–210 (207).
  5. Brodsky and his wife Anna were intending to spend most of the summer at the estate belonging to Anna's family in Kherson province (now in the Ukraine)
  6. The Sleeping Beauty.