Letter 4515

Date 19/31 October 1891
Addressed to Adolph Brodsky
Where written Maydanovo
Language Russian
Autograph Location Manchester (England): Royal Northern College of Music, The Library
Publication The Listener (19 April 1962), p. 683–684 (English translation)
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XVI-А (1976), p. 239–241
Tchaikovsky in America. The composer's visit in 1891 (1986), p. 190–192 (English translation)
Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 135–137

Text and Translation

Russian text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
19 окт[ября] 1891
с[ело] Майданово

Милый друг Адольф!

Я не только не забыл тебя (странное предположение), но в последнее время много раз порывался писать тебе, да, хоть убей, не мог найти в старых письмах твоего летнего адреса. Мне именно хотелось тебе и Анне Львовне выразить пожелания счастливого переезда и вообще всяческого благополучия на новом поприще деятельности. Ты в глубине души не можешь сомневаться в моей искреннейшей дружбе и симпатии к тебе, и потому я даже несколько обиделся твоим выражением, что я, может быть не забыл тебя. Уверяю тебя, что я очень верен и упорен в своих чувствах, что я тебя всегда очень любил, а вследствие особенных обстоятельств и знакомства с твоей женой, после Лейпцига, стал любить гораздо ещё больше. Неоднократно в последнее время я сокрушался при мысли о том, как судьба сталкивает людей, устраивает интимное сближение между ними, а потом на несколько лет и больше снова разлучает их до того, что может явиться предположение о забвении! Нет, милейший, ей-Богу, не забыл ни тебя, ни твою архисимпатичную Анну Львовну, часто о вас думаю и душевно стремлюсь к вам. В эту минуту живо представляю себе вас на столь мне знакомом «Fürst Bismark'е», а потом буду живо представлять вас в своём воображении среди нью-йоркской обстановки. Я уже давно знал от Дамроша о твоём ангажементе и одобрял твоё решение перебраться в Америку. Убеждён, что ты там превосходно устроишься и будешь доволен во всех отношениях. Но не будешь ли ты первое время немножко тосковать о тёплом уголке, насиженном в Лейпциге? Весьма может быть, — но время сгладит всё, и в конечном результате я вижу только одно благо в том, что ты решился перебраться за океан.

Про себя ничего особенно нового сообщить не имею. По-прежнему много работаю. В нынешнем сезоне мне предстоит инструментовать две громадные партитуры, быть в Гамбурге и Праге на постановке опер, концертировать в Голландии, во Франции и дирижировать множеством концертов в России в разных местах. В Америку меня на весну приглашают, — но, кажется, это не состоится. Мне предлагают слишком ничтожный гонорар, такой, который едва окупит мои дорожные издержки. Я заломил втрое больше, и, по всей вероятности, они не согласятся, что меня нисколько не удивит и не обидит.

Относительно голосов концерта похлопочу. У меня к тебе просьба такого же рода. Я оставил, то есть мне, вследствие отъезда всего оркестра с распорядителем по части нотного материала на какой-то Musikfest, не возвратили голоса моей 3-ей сюиты, по коим я играл её в Нью-Йорке. Между тем они мне для нового издания ужасно нужны. Я писал летом и к Рено и к его зятю об этих голосах, но не получил их. Ради Бога, похлопочи, чтобы они нашлись и были отправлены в Москву на имя П. И. Юргенсона.

Голубчик, рекомендую тебе твоего соседа по пульту, Конюса. Это не только талантливый и неглупый юноша, но превосходный во всех отношениях молодой человек, принадлежащий к необыкновенно даровитой и чудесной семье. Я его очень полюбил в последнее время, ибо в Париже близко с ним сошёлся и ужасно был рад за него, когда узнал о твоём переезде в Америку. Для него величайшее счастье, что он на чужбине найдёт таких хороших людей-соотечественников, как ты и Анна Львовна. Прошу вас обоих обласкать милого юношу, достойного вполне вашего сочувствия.

Пожалуйста, очень-очень поклонись от меня Дамрошу и его жене, семье Рено и массе моих нью-йоркских друзей, среди коих ты будешь жить и действовать. Я сохранил о Нью-Йорке и о радушии его жителей самое отрадное воспоминание. Американцы — народ необыкновенно симпатичный, прямой, простой, искренний. Напомни Конюсу, что он обещал написать мне.

Обнимаю тебя крепко, милый мой друг Адольф. Целую ручку Анны Львовны. Бог даст, летом удастся посетить вас.

Твой, П. Чайковский

19 October 1891
Maydanovo village

Adolph, dear friend!

Not only have I not forgotten you (a strange supposition), but I have recently tried many times to write to you—the trouble is that for the life of me I haven't been able to find your summer address in your old letters. For I wanted to wish you and Anna Lvovna a safe crossing and indeed all kinds of prosperity in your new sphere of activity. In your heart of hearts you cannot possibly have any doubt as to my utterly sincere friendship and sympathy for you, and that is why I was a little hurt by your phrase suggesting that I might have forgotten you [1]. I assure you that I am very loyal and steadfast in my feelings, that I have always loved you very much, and that after Leipzig, as a result of the special circumstances and my acquaintance with your wife, I came to love you even, even more [2]. On more than one occasion lately it has distressed me to think of the way that Fate brings people together and enables them to become intimate friends, but then separates them again for a few, or even several, years such that it becomes possible for suppositions to arise about having been forgotten! No, dear fellow, I have truly not forgotten you or your super-nice Anna Lvovna; I often think about you both and inwardly wish I could be with you. At this very moment I am vividly imagining you on board the "Fürst Bismarck", with which I am so familiar [3], and later I shall just as vividly picture you to myself in the setting of New York. I knew about your engagement long ago from Damrosch, and I approved of your decision to betake yourself to America. I am certain that you will settle in splendidly there, and that you will be satisfied in all respects. On the other hand, will you not miss, to start with, the cosy little corner which you had made for yourselves in Leipzig? It may very well be so, but time smooths over everything, and in the long run I can see only good things arising from your decision to cross the ocean.

As for myself, I don't have anything particularly new to report. I am working a great deal as before. In the course of the current season I have to orchestrate two huge scores [4], go to Hamburg and Prague for productions of my operas, give concerts in Holland and France, and conduct lots of concerts in various places in Russia [5]. I have been invited to come to America in the spring, but I think this won't work out. They are offering me a far too paltry fee—indeed one which would hardly cover my travelling expenses. I have demanded triple that sum, and in all probability they will not agree to this, but this is something which would not surprise or offend me in the least [6].

Regarding the parts for the concerto, I'll take care of that [7]. I have a favour of the same kind to ask you. I left behind, or rather, I did not get back the parts of my Third Suite which I used to perform it at New York, because the whole orchestra left for some music festival together with the member of staff in charge of scores and parts. Now, I badly need to get hold of those parts for a new edition. I wrote to Reno and to his son-in-law in the summer regarding these parts, but I didn't get them back [8]. For God's sake, see to it that they are found and dispatched to Moscow, to P. I. Jurgenson's address.

Golubchik, I recommend to you your desk-neighbour, Konyus. He is not only a talented and quite intelligent youngster, but a young man who is splendid in every respect and who belongs to an extraordinarily gifted and wonderful family. I have lately grown very fond of him, because I got to know him well in Paris and was awfully glad for him when I found out about your move to America. It is most fortunate for him that in this foreign land he will encounter such fine people and compatriots as you and Anna Lvovna. I ask you both to treat this dear youth with affection, for he is wholly deserving of your sympathy [9].

Please give my very, very warm regards to Damrosch and his wife, to the Reno family, and to the masses of my friends in New York in whose midst you will be living and working. I have the most pleasant memories of New York and the hospitality of its inhabitants. The Americans are an uncommonly likeable, straightforward, simple, and sincere people. Remind Konyus that he has promised to write to me.

I hug you tightly, my dear friend Adolph. I kiss the hand of Anna Lvovna. God willing, I should be able to visit you in the summer.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Adolph Brodsky had begun his letter to Tchaikovsky from Hamburg on 10/22 October 1891—in which he explained that the next day he and his wife Anna would be boarding the steamship Fürst Bismarck to sail to New York, where he had been invited by Walter Damrosch to take up the post of leader of the New York Symphony Orchestra—as follows: "Pyotr Ilyich, dear friend! We haven't written to one another for quite a while, yet I still have the hope that you haven't forgotten me". Brodsky's letter has been published in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 134–135.
  2. When Tchaikovsky arrived in Leipzig on 19/31 December 1887 for the start of his first tour as a conductor of his own works he was feeling very homesick and apprehensive of what lay ahead of him, but the warm Russian hospitality which he enjoyed at the Brodskys' house (where he also made the acquaintance of Brahms, Grieg and his wife Nina, and Ethel Smyth) had served as a great boost to his morale.
  3. Tchaikovsky had returned to Europe from his American tour that spring on board the steamship Fürst Bismarck.
  4. The opera Iolanta and the ballet The Nutcracker.
  5. Not all of these conducting engagements for the 1891/92 season worked out. Tchaikovsky did conduct a concert of his works in Kiev on 21 December 1891/2 January 1892 and a similar concert in Warsaw on 2/14 January 1892. (Both Kiev and Warsaw were part of the Russian Empire at the time). However, although he then went to Hamburg intending to conduct the first performance in Germany of Yevgeny Onegin, he decided after one rehearsal to hand over the baton to the theatre's resident conductor, Gustav Mahler, and it was Mahler who conducted the German premiere of that opera on 7/19 January 1892. The following day, Tchaikovsky left for Paris, where he stayed for ten days before returning to Russia, having decided to cancel the two concerts he was due to give in Holland (The Hague and Amsterdam). He had found out earlier (while still in Kiev) that the scheduled production of The Queen of Spades in Prague had been postponed until the following season, and according to his brother Modest, he was greatly relieved to be able to return to Maydanovo sooner than expected so as to commence the orchestration of The Nutcracker. See Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1997), p. 456–465.
  6. Tchaikovsky had received 2,500 dollars for the four concerts he conducted in New York in May 1891. Morris Reno, the president of the Music Hall Company who had helped to organize that tour, tried to persuade the composer to come to America a second time, but the fee Reno was now offering (4,000 dollars for 20 concerts) didn't seem sufficiently attractive. See Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1997), p. 445–446.
  7. In his letter from Hamburg on 10/22 October 1891 Brodsky had asked Tchaikovsky to request Vasily Safonov, the director of the Moscow Conservatory, to forward to him in New York his copies of the orchestral parts for the Violin Concerto.
  8. Several letters from the impresario Morris Reno and his wife Marie to Tchaikovsky have survived (they are included, in Russian translation, in: Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 97–100), but no letters from the composer to Morris Reno (or to his son-in-law, Leon Margulis) have come to light as yet. On the other hand, a number of letters from Tchaikovsky to Marie Reno have come to light in recent years.
  9. See also the letter of introduction (Letter 4488) to Brodsky and his wife dated 30 September 1891 [O.S.] which Tchaikovsky had given to the young violinist Yuly Konyus who was due to take up an engagement with the New York Symphony Orchestra. Anna Brodsky would write to Tchaikovsky from New York in November 1891: "With Konyus it was a case of love at first sight for us. We have seen what a remarkably honest character he has and how independent he is at such a young age". Her letter has been published in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 137–138.