Letter 4807

Date 15/27 November 1892
Addressed to William von Sachs
Where written Saint Petersburg
Language French
Autograph Location New York (New York, USA): The Morgan Library and Museum (Morgan collection)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XVI-Б (1979), p. 194–195.

Text and Translation

French text
English translation
By Ronald de Vet
15/27 Novembre 1892
Grand Hôtel, St. Petersbourg

Mon cher et excellent ami!

Je viens de recevoir Votre bonne lettre. Le succés de Adèle aus der Ohe me réjouit beaucoup, car c'est non seulement une artiste de grand talent, mais aussi une bien bonne et excellente personne.

Pour beaucoup de raisons, il m'est impossible, malgré le vif désir de Vous revoir, de quitter Petersbourg en ce moment. Surtout ce sont les répétitions de Iolanthe et de Casse-noisette qui m'y retiennent.

J'applaudis chaudement à Votre idée de faire une excursion en Russie et suis sûr que cela Vous intéressera. Je crains cependant que Vous n'arriviez ici quand je n'y serai pas. J'ai promis à Pollini d'assister à Hambourg aux répétitions de „Iolanthe”, mais, probablement grâce au choléra, on ne parvient pas encore à reprendre le train de vie ordinaire dans cette ville, — c'est comme cela que je m'explique que jusqu'à présent je n'ai pas encore de nouvelles sûres quant à l'époque où mon opéra y sera donné.

Il est bien dommage [que] notre rencontre à Itter n'a eu lieu. Le fait est que juste au moment où M[ada]me Menter devait Vous écrire pour Vous prier de venir, — j'ai été appellé en toute hâte à Prague pour la mise en scène de la Dame de Pique où je n'ai pu que rester trois jours, car pour une affaire pressée il a fallu rentrer en Russie. M[ada]me Menter n'a pas osé Vous inviter quand je n'y étais plus, croyant probablement, que sans moi Vous Vous y ennuyer. Quand j'aurai sûr les dates de Iolanthe à Hambourg et à Schwerin (où l'opéra sera donné aussi), je Vous le ferai savoir. Je Vous embrasse en attendant.

Mille choses pour votre frère.

P. Tschaïkovsky

Si M-elle Adèle et sa soeur sont encore à Vienne, saluez les bien de ma part.

15/27 November 1892
Grand Hotel, Saint Petersburg

My dear and great friend!

I just received your kind letter. The success of Adele aus der Ohe delights me very much, for she is not only an artist of great talent, but also a very kind and splendid person.

For a lot of reasons, I cannot possibly leave Petersburg at the moment, in spite of my strong desire to see you again. It is above all the rehearsals for Iolanta and The Nutcracker that keep me here.

I applaud warmly your idea to make a trip to Russia, and I am sure that it will interest you. I fear, however, that you may arrive here while I am away. I have promised Pollini to come to Hamburg to attend the rehearsals of Iolanta, but, probably because of the cholera, they have not yet managed to resume their customary tenor of life in that city — at least this is how I explain to myself the fact that so far I haven't had any reliable news yet as to the dates when my opera is to be produced there [1].

It is a great pity that our meeting in Itter didn't take place [2]. What happened is that just when Madame Menter was supposed to write to you asking you to come, I was summoned in great haste to Prague for the production of The Queen of Spades [3]; I could stay there for only three days, because I had to return to Russia to attend to an urgent matter [4]. Madame Menter didn't dare to invite you when I wasn't there anymore, believing probably that it would be boring for you there without me. When I know for certain the dates of Iolanta in Hamburg and in Schwerin (where the opera is to be staged too) [5], I will let you know. I embrace you until then.

Lots of love to your brother.

P. Tchaikovsky

If Miss Adèle and her sister [6] are still in Vienna, send them my regards.

Notes and References

  1. It was indeed because of the cholera pandemic of 1892, the last one in Western Europe, that daily life in Hamburg came to a standstill for about two months. Hamburg suffered much more from cholera than any other city in Europe, because drinking water was taken unfiltered from the Elbe River, which was contaminated by sewage water.
  2. Tchaikovsky had travelled from Vienna to Itter in the Tyrol on 10/22 September 1892, together with the pianist Sophie Menter (who lived in the castle there) and her pupil Vasily Sapelnikov (who also resided there).
  3. The Czech premiere of Tchaikovsky's opera had taken place on 30 September/12 October 1892.
  4. Tchaikovsky was in Prague from 26 September/8 October till 1/13 October 1892. He arrived in Saint Petersburg on 3/15 October 1892. No urgent matter is known for the days he spent there (3/15 to 6/18 October), during which he met some family members; in a letter to his brother Anatoly he described these days as having been "quite pleasant" (Letter 4781 of 7/19 October 1892). By "urgent matter" Tchaikovsky was probably referring to the competition to select a principal conductor for the Moscow Maly Theatre. Tchaikovsky served on the committee that judged the conductors who applied for this post. On Tchaikovsky's request, written in Itter (see Letter 4774 to Pavel Pchelnikov), the competition was postponed until 14/26 October 1892. The committee recommended Andrey Arends, who was the candidate favoured by Tchaikovsky.
  5. Tchaikovsky planned to attend the rehearsals and performances of Iolanta in both cities, but in the end he visited neither of them (see also Letter 4824, also to William von Sachs). The production in Schwerin did not take place.
  6. The German pianist Adele aus der Ohe (1864-1937) had played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in New York and Baltimore in 1891, in concerts conducted by the composer. He had also met her sister there several times.