Letter 4845

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 7/19 January 1893
Addressed to Yekaterina Laroche
Where written Paris
Language Russian
Autograph Location unknown [1]
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XVII (1981), p. 19–20
Notes Photocopy in Klin (Russia): Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
19/7 янв[аря 18]93

Милая Мистрис Кату!

Письмо Ваше как всегда было прочтено с великим удовольствием и благодарностью. Я получил его неделю тому назад, приехавши в Брюссель и с тех пор отчасти по лени, отчасти по недосугу не мог выразить письменную благодарность за него. Но кроме всего этого есть ещё причина парализуящая мою охоту писать близким друзьям. Я нахожусь все это время в каком-то отвратительном настроении, переживаю какой-то нравственный кризис, из которого или выйду победителем, т.е. получу новые силы и новую охоту марать бумагу, или же побежденным, т.е. подам в отставку и начну доживать век по[-]маленьку. Это скверное состояние духа заставляет меня в письмах глупейшим образом ныть, а так как подобное нытье читать очень скучно, то я и стал как-то особенно скуп на письма.

Брюссельский концерт мой прошёл очень удачно, но я невероятно скучал там и боролся с желанием плюнуть и удрать. На другое же утро, т.е. 3 дня тому назад приехал в Париж, в коем тщетно пытался сохранить инкогнито. Это не удалось и меня теперь одолевают отчасти туземцы, отчасти же соотечественники. Завтра удираю, но увы не в Клин, а в Одессу. В Питере надеюсь быть в начале Февраля. Дал себе слово никогда более не ездить за границу иначе как в качестве туриста, и непременно с кем-нибудь из близких.

Надеюсь, что у Вас все благополучно и толстяк наш здоров. Если увидите Анну Петровну, скажите, что я напишу ей из Одессы. Отдельно ей сегодня не пишу, ибо хочется страшно ныть и я с трудом воздерживаюсь.

Ай кис Юр хэндс [11].

П. Чайковский

19/7 January 1893

Dear Mistress Katu! [2]

Your letter was, as always, read with great pleasure and gratefulness. I received it a week ago when I arrived in Brussels [3], but in the mean time, partly due to laziness and partly because I was so busy, I haven't been able to put my gratitude for it into writing. However, apart from all this there is another reason which is paralysing my keenness on writing letters to close friends. I currently find myself in a horrendous mood; I am going through a kind of moral crisis from which I will emerge either victorious—that is, I will gain new strength and a fresh desire to fill notepaper with my scribblings—or vanquished—that is, I will go into retirement and start to live out my days quietly. This repulsive state of mind is causing me to moan in the most stupid fashion in my letters, and since it's very boring to have to read such moaning, I have become rather chary in writing letters.

My concert in Brussels was very successful [4] but I felt incredibly depressed there and I had to struggle against the desire to spit upon it all and run away. The following morning, that is 3 days ago, I arrived in Paris where I have in vain been trying to preserve my incognito. This hasn't worked out and I am now being tormented partly by the locals, partly by my compatriots [5]. Tomorrow I am getting away—though, alas, I'm heading not for Klin, but for Odessa [6]. I hope to be in Piter in early February [7]. I have sworn to myself never to travel abroad again other than as a tourist, and then always with someone who is close to me [8].

I hope that everything is all right with you and that our 'fatty' [9] is well. If you see Anna Petrovna, tell her that I will write to her from Odessa [10]. I am not writing to her separately today because I very much feel like moaning and it costs me a great deal of effort to restrain myself.

I kiss your hands.

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. The autograph was sold in December 2014 by Xiling Yinshe Auction Co. Ltd., Hangzhou [1]. It had been previously sold in May 2014 by Andrusier Autographs, London [2], in October 2011 by Fraser's Autographs, London, and in March 2009 by R. R. Auction, Amherst (New Hampshire).
  2. Tchaikovksy jestingly addresses Yekaterina Laroche as "Mrs" transliterated into Cyrillic because her husband, Herman Laroche, had over the years often helped him in his study of English. See also letter 5006a to Yekaterina Laroche of 11/23 August 1893, which is written entirely in English.
  3. Tchaikovsky arrived in Brussels on 28 December 1892/9 January 1893. After leaving Russia (from Saint Petersburg) on 13/25 December 1892 he had first travelled (via Berlin and Basel) to Montbéliard in order to visit his old governess Fanny Dürbach (20 December 1892/1 January 1893–21 December 1892/2 January 1893) and then spent a few days in Paris before travelling on to the Belgian capital.
  4. In Brussels Tchaikovsky conducted a concert of his works on 2/14 January 1893 which included the Suite No. 3, the Piano Concerto No. 1 (soloist Franz Rummel), the suite from The Nutcracker, the Serenade for String Orchestra, and the overture The Year 1812.
  5. See, for example, Letter 4844c to Adèle Bohomoletz of 6/18 January 1893, in which Tchaikovsky accepts her invitation to visit her the following day.
  6. Tchaikovsky was scheduled to conduct no less than five concerts in Odessa in January/February 1893, as well as to attend a production of The Queen of Spades by Ivan Grekov's opera company (19/31 January 1893).
  7. Upon leaving Odessa on 25 January/6 February 1893 Tchaikovsky in fact headed for Kamenka where he stayed for a few days before returning (via Kharkov) to his house in Klin (where he arrived on 3/15 February 1893). He would not visit Saint Petersburg again until 25 March/6 April 1893.
  8. Tchaikovsky did not keep his word because on his next trip abroad — to England in May/June 1893 — he travelled not as a "tourist" but very much as a public figure and representative of Russian music: thus, he conducted his Symphony No. 4 at a Philharmonic Society concert in London on 20 May/1 June 1893 and, together with Camille Saint-Saëns, Max Bruch, and Arrigo Boito, attended a ceremony at the University of Cambridge on 1/13 June 1893 at which they were all awarded honorary doctorates in music. Moreover, Tchaikovsky travelled to England on his own.
  9. 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.
  10. See Letter 4849 to Anna Merkling of 23 January/4 February 1893.
  11. Tchaikovsky has transliterated the English phrase "I kiss Your hands" into Cyrillic (see also note 3 below).