Letter 473

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Date 14/26 June 1876
Addressed to Konstantin Shilovsky
Where written Kamenka
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow: Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum (Shilovsky collection)
Publication Чайковский на Московской сцене (1940), p. 301–302
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том VI (1961), p. 47–48

Text and Translation

Russian text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Каменка, 14 июня 1876

Милый Костя! Ты, должно быть, считаешь меня за самого неблагодарного и бессовестного из людей. Как же? Прожить две чудные недели среди твоих Глебовских прелестей, пользоваться столь чарующим гостеприимством, целые пятнадцать дней слушать стихотворные потоки твоей увлекательной поэтической фантазии,—и потом исчезнуть, не давая о себе знать решительно ничего в течение целых двух месяцев? Это поистине подло, и я каюсь коленопреклоненно перед тобой и всеми милыми обитателями Глебова. Скажу тебе, Костя, вовсе не из желания льстить твоему хозяйскому самолюбию, что я дорого бы дал, чтобы побывать у тебя летом. Но увы! вряд ли эта мечта осуществима. Дело в том, что мне необходимо съездить полечиться за границу. Мой желудочный катар делает мне, наконец, жизнь невыносимою. Затем в конце июля и начале августа мне тоже необходимо быть в Байрейте. Когда ж попасть в Глебово! Разве в конце лета, но и это по разным причинам едва ли возможно. Итак, приходится покамест ограничиться письменными сношениями. Про себя мне много рассказывать нечего. Выехал я из Москвы 27-го июня и по дороге сюда заехал к Кондратьеву, у которого пробыл не более трёх дней. Здесь я думал застать сестру, которая должна была возвратиться из-за границы с семейством,—но это не состоялось. Теперь я решил, не дождавшись сестры, ехать в Виши. Здоровье моё не особенно хорошо. Помнишь мою Глебовскую болезнь? Представь, что я до сих пор не могу от неё вполне оправиться. От времени до времени меня посещает подлянка-лихоманка и треплет с необычайным усердием. Я предаюсь вследствие этого обстоятельства совершенной праздности, и «Ефраим» покамест лежит без употребления. Однакоже полагаю, что скоро начну употреблять его. Из Москвы никаких известий не имею и о Шамборе не знаю ничего. Ты меня весьма осчастливишь, если напишешь цидулку и адресуешь её тако: France, Vichy, Poste restante, M. Pierre de Tschaikowsky. Изложи мне в этой цидулке о том, что у Вас в Глебове происходит, что ты лепишь, что делают обе милые Марии, как поживают их столь же милые супруги, а также чада и домочадца. Потрудись у Марий поцеловать ручки, а их супругов щёчки и кланяйся милому Глебову вообще

Твой, П. Чайковский
Kamenka, 14 June 1876

Dear Kostya! You must probably consider me the most ungrateful and shameless of men. How could you not?! I mean, after living amidst the delights of Glebovo for two wonderful weeks and enjoying a hospitality which was just as enchanting, after listening to the verses streaming forth from your fascinating poetic imagination for a whole fortnight, I then disappeared without giving any news of myself in the course of two months![1] That was truly vile of me, and I prostrate myself in repentance before you and all the dear inhabitants of Glebovo. I must tell you, Kostya—and this by no means because I wish to flatter your proprietary self-esteem—that I would give anything to spend the summer at your place. But alas! this dream is hardly one that can be realised. You see, it is essential for me to go abroad for a cure. My stomach catarrh is truly making my life unbearable. After that, at the end of July or in early August I also have to go to Bayreuth [2]. When will I be able to come to Glebovo! It could only be at the end of the summer, but even that is hardly feasible for various reasons. Thus, for the time being epistolary relations will have to do. There's not much I have to say about myself. I left Moscow on 27 June and on the way here I stopped over at Kondratyev's place for no more than three days. Here I was hoping to find my sister, who was supposed to have returned from abroad with her family, but that didn't work out. Now I have decided to leave for Vichy without waiting for my sister. My state of health isn't particularly good. Remember the illness I had at Glebovo?[3] Just imagine, I still haven't been able to recover from it fully. From time to time I am visited by a wicked intermittent fever [4] that pulls me about with extraordinary relish. As a result of this, I am indulging in complete idleness, and "Ephraim" is for the time being lying around unused [5]. Nevertheless, I think that I will soon start using him [6]. I haven't had any news from Moscow and I know nothing about Chambord [7]. You would make me very happy if you were to write a little epistle and address it to: France, Vichy, Poste restante, M. Pierre de Tschaikowsky. In this little epistle I would like you to tell me what is going on at your place in Glebovo, what you are sculpting at the moment, how the two dear Marias are getting on, how their equally dear husbands are doing, and likewise the children and domestics [8]. Kindly kiss hands of both Marias for me, and the cheeks of their husbands, and give my regards to dear Glebovo in general

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

<references> [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tchaikovsky had stayed at Konstantin Shilovsky's family estate near Glebovo from 29 March/10 April to 12/24 April 1876. It was there that he completed the scoring of his first ballet Swan Lake.
  2. 2.0 2.1 On 18/30 June 1876 Tchaikovsky left Kamenka and went abroad, heading for Vichy to take the waters. He did not complete his course of treatment there but left in mid/late July for the south of France, where he spent about two weeks with his brother Modest and the latter's pupil Nikolay Konradi. By 31 July/12 August Tchaikovsky was already in Bayreuth, where in the capacity of special correspondent for the journal Russian Register he was due to report on the inaugural Bayreuth Festival. His series of articles was published as The Bayreuth Music Festival in the course of that summer.
  3. 3.0 3.1 During his stay in Glebovo two months earlier Tchaikovsky had caught a chill while out hunting and come down with a fever — see Alexander Poznansky, Tchaikovsky. The quest for the inner man (1993), p. 175.
  4. 4.0 4.1 The term used by Tchaikovsky here to describe his fever—podlianka-likhomanka—is a folkloric composite of two words: podlyanka ('vile woman') and likhomanka, which in Russian folklore was the name given to one of King Herod's twelve sisters (or daughters in some versions), all of whom came to symbolize fever demons. Thus, likhomanka refers to an 'intermittent fever'. See Vladimir Dal, Толковый словарь живого великорусского языка ; том 2 (1956), p. 258.
  5. 5.0 5.1 At Tchaikovsky's request, Konstantin Shilovsky had drawn up a scenario for a projected opera in four acts set in Ancient Egypt, which was to be entitled Ephraim, but nothing ultimately came of this project.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tchaikovsky's emphasis here and the specific Russian words used suggest that this is a joke with sexual undertones. The relevant phrase in the original reads: skoro nachnu upotrebliat' ego, which, translated literally, means: 'will soon start using him [i.e. Ephraim]'. The verb upotrebliat in nineteenth-century Russian could be used to mean 'use in a sexual sense'. This kind of joke would not be out of place in a letter to Konstantin Shilovsky, who was aware of Tchaikovsky's homosexuality.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Because of Vladimir Shilovsky's love of jewellery and aristocratic titles he was known among his friends as Chambord, in allusion to Henri, Count of Chambord (1820–1883), a pretender to the French throne. See: Alexander Poznansky, Пётр Чайковский. Биография, том I, vol. 1 (2009), p. 222.
  8. 8.0 8.1 The "two Marias" are Konstantin's mother Mariya Vasilyevna Shilovskaya-Begicheva (née Verderevskaya; 1830–1879), whose second husband was Vladimir Begichev; and Konstantin's wife, Mariya Konstantinovna Shilovskaya (née Bagriaton-Imeretinskaya).