Letter 4437

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 8/20 July 1891
Addressed to Yekaterina Laroche
Where written Maydanovo
Language Russian
Autograph Location Peru: private collection
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XVI-А (1976), p. 174–175
Yolanda, la última ópera de Tchaikovsky (2009), p. 208 (facsimile) [1]
Notes Photocopy in Klin (Russia): Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve
Click on a thumbnail below to enlarge
Reproduced by kind permission of Augusto Ferrero Costa, Lima, Peru

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
8 Июля 1891 г[ода]
г[ород] Клин, Моск[овская] губ[ерния]

Милая мистрис Кату!

Письмо Ваше доставило мне большое удовольствие. Знаете, честное слово я нахожу что у Вас есть литературный талант. Вы так живо, так прелестно описали Ваш переезд от Берлина до Мариенбада, особенно сцену при потере багажной квитанции и все, что проделывал наш чудак с его manières de marquis (но с животом закоснелого в праздности буржуа) что я испытал удовольствие, можно сказать эстетическое. Вообще письмо Ваше меня восхитило. Я радуюсь что наш „маркиз“ пьёт воды, встаёт рано и находится в хорошем расположении духа. Пожалуйста напишите ещё; не платите мне злом за добро, — пишите подробно. Мне ей-Богу сил нет помногу писать. Вчера, возвратившись из Петербурга, я нашёл здесь 27 ожидавших меня писем!!! На все это нужно отвечать, а ещё иные письма деловые.

В Петербург я удирал от празднования именин. В нынешний раз мне пришлось бы не только принять многих гостей из Москвы, но и пригласить всех Майдановских дачников, с коими волей-неволей я совсем перезнакомился. Это было бы уже слишком скучно. В Петербурге провёл неделю очень приятно в полном одиночестве, если не считать Саню Литке появившегося из Ревеля за 2 дня до моего отъезда. Был в Петергофе и провёл с Кондратьевыми весьма приятный день. Ежедневно совершал прогулки, посещал Зоологический Сад, словом кутил. Мне это было нужно, ибо я заработался. Балет кончен вчерне. Дался он мне с напряжением и трудом. Становлюсь стар и даю себе слово в близком будущем перестать писать. Завтра хочу приняться за оперу. Какие Ваши планы? Будете ли гостить у меня в Августе? Когда собираетесь покинуть Марьенбад? Маркиза обнимаю. Вас тоже от души.

Ваш П. Чайковский

8 July 1891
Town of Klin, Moscow province

Dear Mrs Katu! [2]

Your letter gave me great pleasure [3]. You know, upon my honour, you've got literary talent. Why, you described so vividly and charmingly your journey from Berlin to Marienbad—especially the scene when you lost your luggage receipt and also everything that our crank got up to, with his airs of a marquis (but the belly of a bourgeois stagnating in idleness)[4]—that I experienced a, so to speak, aesthetic delight. Indeed, your letter quite enraptured me. I am glad that our "marquis" is taking the waters, that he is getting up early and is in a good mood. Please write to me more. Don't repay good with evil, that is please do write in detail. Truly, I just don't have the strength to write much. Yesterday, when I got back from Petersburg [5], I found 27 letters waiting for me here!!! I have to reply to all of them, and, moreover, some are about business matters.

The reason I ran off to Petersburg was to escape the celebration of my name-day [6]. This time round it would have meant not just receiving lots of guests from Moscow, but I'd also have had to invite all the holiday-makers in Maydanovo whose acquaintance I have willy-nilly had to make. That would have been just too boring. In Petersburg I spent a very pleasant week in complete solitude, unless one counts Sanya Litke, who turned up from Reval two days before I left. I also went to Peterhof where I spent a most agreeable day with the Kondratyevs [7]. Every day I went for walks and visited the Zoological Garden—in short, I had quite a spree. I really needed to because I have altogether tired myself out with work. I've finished the rough sketches for the ballet. It cost me great efforts and trouble. I am getting old and I swear that in a not too distant future I shall stop composing [8]. Tomorrow I want to make a start on the opera [9]. What plans do you have? Will you be my guests in August? When do you intend to leave Marienbad? I embrace the marquis [10]. And you too with all my heart.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. A complete facsimile of Tchaikovsky's four-page letter, the autograph of which is owned by the author of this collection of essays (the Spanish title of which may be translated as: Music: Context and Pretext in History), appears in the chapter entitled Yolanda, la última ópera de Tchaikovsky ("Iolanta, Tchaikovsky's last opera", p. 207–210; first published as an article in the Sunday supplement of the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio on 6 May 1990). The author wishes to state that he acquired this letter on account of its historical value as testimony that Tchaikovsky had just completed his ballet The Nutcracker and that the following day he would start work on what was to be his last opera, Iolanta. The letter is undoubtedly addressed to Yekaterina Laroche.
  2. Tchaikovsky jestingly addresses Yekaterina Laroche as "Mrs" transliterated into Cyrillic because her husband, Herman Laroche, had over the years often helped him with his English studies. See also Letter 5006a to Yekaterina Laroche (or, as Tchaikovsky affectionately called her, "Katu") of 11/23 August 1893, which is written entirely in English.
  3. Yekaterina Laroche's letter of 25 June/7 July 1891 has survived in the Klin House-Museum Archive.
  4. The "marquis" was Herman Laroche, who had been thin as a rake when he was Tchaikovsky's fellow student at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in the 1860s, had put on much weight in later years because of the Oblomov-like lifestyle he had lapsed into and from which Tchaikovsky sometimes tried to rouse his friend by asking Laroche to dictate to him articles on music.
  5. Tchaikovsky had been in Saint Petersburg from 29 June/11 July to 6/18 July 1891.
  6. Tchaikovsky's name-day was on 29 June/11 July—the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
  7. That is, with Mariya Kondratyeva, the widow of Tchaikovsky's late friend Nikolay Kondratyev (d. 1887), and her young daughter Nadezhda ("Dinochka"), who would later recall the composer with great fondness.
  8. See also the interview which Tchaikovsky gave to a reporter from the Moscow newspaper Daily News in April 1892 and which was published on 13/25 April 1892 as With P. I. Tchaikovsky (TH 323), where the composer again expressed his intention of abandoning creative work.
  9. The opera Iolanta.
  10. 'the marquis' = Herman Laroche.