Letter 4847

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 15/27 January 1893
Addressed to Vasily Safonov
Where written Odessa
Language Russian
Autograph Location Klin (Russia): Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve (a3, No. 350)
Publication Василий Ильич Сафонов (1959), p. 210–211
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XVII (1981), p. 22

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Yuliya White
15 янв[аря] [18]93

Милый друг Василий Ильич!

Ты решительно не можешь допустить, чтобы я был способен на какой-нибудь самостоятельный поступок, и в моем письме против Lamoureux усматриваешь плод чьего-то воздействия на мою добрую волю. Но ты ошибаешься. Это письмо написано мной по собственному почину, ибо уж очень отвратительно показалось мне вранье француза. Впрочем, не скрою, что в музыкальных кружках Парижа моё письмо произвело самое благоприятное впечатление. Я ни секунды не верил, что Яковлев, а тем более ты способны были на штуку, рассказанную в «Figaro», но для того, чтобы наказать Lamoureux, я должен был притвориться, что всему поверил, был убеждён, что за васто он будет принуждён заступаться и снять с вас наброшенную тень. Цели своей я совершенно добился, ибо от Deline'я узнал, что Lamoureux был донельзя удручён моим заступничеством за правду, а мне только и нужно было, чтобы он потерпел должное возмездие за гадостную статейку, стоившую ему и много денег, и много неприятностей, причинённых моим письмом.

В Москве я буду в непродолжительном времени и тогда поговорим о концерте фонда. До свидания! Так устал, что писать больше не в состоянии.


П. Чайковский

15 January 1893

Dear friend Vasily Ilyich!

You firmly won't acknowledge that I am capable of any independent action and in my letter against Lamoureux [1] you see the result of somebody's influence affecting my own free will. But you are mistaken. This letter was written by me on my own initiative because the Frenchman's lying appeared to me abominable. However, I can't conceal from you that in Paris's musical circles my letter created the most favourable impression. I didn't believe even for a second that Yakovlev, and you in particular, were capable of such a thing as told by Figaro [2], but I had to pretend that I believed everything in order to punish Lamoureux; I was convinced that he would have been forced to stand up for you and remove the shadow that had been thrown upon you. I have fulfilled my goal completely because I found out from Delines that Lamoureux was terribly dejected by my defence of the truth, but this is what I needed so that he would suffer the retribution he deserved for the nasty article that cost him lots of money, and the many troubles caused by my letter [3].

I will be in Moscow shortly and we can discuss the charity concert then. Farewell! I am so tired that I'm in no state to write any more.


P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Letter 4837 to Michel Delines, 29 December 1892/10 January 1893.
  2. On 8 January 1893 [N.S.] the French newspaper Le Figaro published an article by the journalist André Maurel (1863–1943) entitled "Un voyage musical en Russie", concerning the French conductor Charles Lamoureux (1834–1899), who had been on a concert tour of Saint Petersburg and Moscow in December 1892. The article contained several slurs against Russian musicians (including Anton Rubinstein and Vasily Safonov), as well as the pianist Hans von Bülow, who had been a great champion of Tchaikovsky's music. Modest Tchaikovsky later translated Maurel's article into Russian and included it in his biography of his brother — see Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1997), p. 523–524.
  3. Michel Delines, despite having worked for Le Figaro in the past, was unable to persuade the editors of this anti-Germanic newspaper to print Tchaikovsky's letter. It seems that Delines then turned to the daily Le Paris-Journal (generally referred to simply as Paris), to which he was a regular contributor, and there he did manage to get Tchaikovsky's rectification of Maurel's article and glowing vindication of Hans von Bülow published three days later, on 13 January 1893 [N.S.]. The publication of Tchaikovsky's 'open letter' sparked a veritable polemic. Thus, Lamoureux issued a public statement denying that at the banquet given in his honour in Moscow the guests had jeered at Bülow and emphasizing that he had by no means pretended to be the enlightener of the Russian public as far as Wagner's music was concerned. Safonov himself wrote Tchaikovsky a (private) letter explaining that Maurel's article gave a highly distorted account of the events in Moscow. In Safonov's view, what had most likely happened was that Lamoureux had been carried away by his imagination, leading him to boast to his interviewer back in Paris that he had brought Wagner to the Russians, and that Maurel had decided to spice up the article even further by adding some anti-German touches. Safonov concluded by reproaching Tchaikovsky for having jumped to the conclusion that he was capable of such undignified conduct. The German press also got wind of this polemic and several German newspapers published articles thanking Tchaikovsky for having stood up for Bülow. Note based partly on Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 3 (1997), p. 526–527.