Letter 3938

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 15/27 September 1889
Addressed to Adolph Brodsky
Where written Moscow
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. 182–183
Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 132–133

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Москва, 15 сент[ября 1889]

Милый друг мой!

Я оттого тебе не писал, что был страшно занят инструментовкой балета, а дело наше считал окончательно решённым и устроенным. Итак, всё остаётся в том виде, как мы порешили, и мне только нужно просить у тебя ещё раз прощение за то, что я напутал, то есть вместо трёх вечеров объявил, что вы соглашаетесь на 4 вечера. Но, Бог даст, сборы будут великолепны, и вы не останетесь внакладе.

По газетам заключаю, что с Петербургом ты устроился. Насчёт участия пианистов тоже прошу не сердиться, но имей в виду, что заинтересовать их твоим квартетом было политично. Двое из них здесь очень влиятельны и ловки, и значительная часть публики будет ими привлечена к квартету. Притом же народ это хороший и очень дорожащий честью играть с тобой. Относительно вещей, которые они выбрали, я напишу тебе скорее, дня через два.

Итак, в октябре увидимся; я очень этому радуюсь.

Эрдмансдёрфер личность, несомненно, мелкая, склонная к дрязгам и сплетням, и для нас великое счастье, что мы от этой стервы отделались. Жена же его просто невыносима, ибо элемент её — интрига и всякие подвохи.

Обнимаю тебя крепко! О нотах для концерта я позабочусь. В программе я поставил мелкие пьесы; пожалуйста, выбери без оркестра.

Твой, П. Чайковский

Членам квартета поклон.

Moscow, 15 September 1889

My dear friend!

The reason I haven't written to you is because I have been terribly busy with the instrumentation of my ballet [1], and I considered our matter to have been finally decided and settled. And so, everything remains as we had decided, and I just have to ask once again for your forgiveness for having messed things up—that is, for saying that you had agreed to give four soirées rather than three. However, God permitting, the takings will be splendid, and you won't be none the worse off for it [2].

Judging from the newspapers, I infer that you have managed to come to terms with Petersburg [3]. Regarding the pianists' participation, I ask you again not to be angry with me [4] do bear in mind that it was judicious to get them interested in your quartet. Two of them are very influential here and clever [5], and they will be able to attract a considerable proportion of the public to your quartet's performances. Besides, they are a good bunch and they very much appreciate the honour of playing with you. With regard to the works they've chosen, I shall write to you about this as soon as possible, in two days' time or so.

And so, we shall meet in October—I am greatly looking forward to this.

Erdmannsdörfer's is undoubtedly a petty character, with a penchant for squabbles and gossip, and for us it is very fortunate that we have got rid of that rotter [6]. His wife is simply unbearable, because her natural element is intrigue and all kinds of dirty tricks. 

I hug you tightly! I'll take care of the music for the concert [7]. I have included small pieces in the programme: please choose some without orchestral accompaniment [8].

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

My regards to all the members of the quartet.

Notes and References

  1. The Sleeping Beauty.
  2. Earlier that summer Tchaikovsky and Adolph Brodsky had been corresponding with regard to the invitation which the Russian Musical Society had extended to the "Leipzig Quartet" (Brodsky, first violin; Hans Becker, second violin; Ottokar Nováček, viola; and Julius Klengel, cello) to come to Moscow and give a series of performances during the forthcoming 1889/90 concert season. It had been agreed that they would play in Moscow in late October/early November 1889, and that in between these performances, on 28 October/9 November, Brodsky would appear as the soloist in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto at an RMS symphonic concert in Moscow. The quartet was also hoping to perform in Saint Petersburg. Brodsky had originally assumed that they would be appearing at just three chamber music soirées in Moscow, but at a meeting of the RMS's board of directors Tchaikovsky had then stated that it would be four soirées. Moreover, in Letter 3898 to Brodsky on 9/21 July, Tchaikovsky also explained that the board of directors had decided that the quartet would have to share the evening with a pianist on each of those four occasions. In a letter to the composer from the estate of Belozerka in Kherson province on 15/27 July 1889, Brodsky said that he had nothing against these arrangements and asked what the pianists were intending to play, adding that he would prefer it if they did not choose any works by Beethoven because he and his colleagues from Leipzig were intending to feature a late Beethoven string quartet at each one of the soirées. He also raised the possibility that Aleksandr Ziloti might join him and Klengel to perform Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio. In his most recent letter from Leipzig on 6/18 September 1889 Brodsky had said that he was alarmed not to have received any news from Tchaikovsky since July (Letter 3898), and he asked him again which works the pianists had selected. Both of Brodsky's letters have been published in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 131–132, p. 133.
  3. Brodsky was negotiating directly with Eugen Albrecht, director of the Saint Petersburg Chamber Music Society, regarding the possibility of the "Leipzig Quartet" giving a performance in the imperial capital. They would in fact play there on 16/28 November 1889.
  4. Also taking part at the chamber music soirées in Moscow featuring the "Leipzig Quartet", on 31 October/12 November, 3/15, 7/19, and 10/22 November 1889, were the following pianists: Aleksandr Ziloti, Paul Pabst, Vasily Safonov, and Sergey Taneyev. Note in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 243.
  5. Tchaikovsky is evidently referring here to Safonov, the new director of the Moscow Conservatory, and to Taneyev, who had stood down from that post earlier in the spring but who still commanded great respect in the musical world of Moscow.
  6. In his letter to Tchaikovsky from Leipzig on 6/18 September 1889 Brodsky wrote about a recent meeting he had had with Max Erdmannsdörfer while performing at the Hamburg Music Festival. The violinist referred to Erdmannsdörfer as a "real swine" who had not only been "intriguing" against him without any ostensible reason, but who had also "slandered" him to others.
  7. Brodsky intended to play Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto at the RMS concert on 28 October/9 November 1889 which was to be conducted by the composer. In a letter to him from Kerch (in Crimea) on 29 June/11 July 1889 Brodsky explained that after performing the concerto at an RMS concert in Saint Petersburg two years earlier (on 31 January/12 February 1887, with Anton Rubinstein conducting) he had left behind his folder with the orchestral parts and the piano reduction of the concerto, and that the RMS staff there had failed to send this folder to him in Leipzig as they had promised. As a result, Brodsky added, he had been unable to perform the concerto ever since then. Brodsky's letter has been published in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 129–130.
  8. At the RMS concert in Moscow conducted by Tchaikovsky on 28 October/9 November 1889, apart from the Violin Concerto, Brodsky performed an Adagio by Spohr and a Spanish Dance by Sarasate (both for solo violin).