|Date||23 August/4 September 1893|
|Addressed to||Michał Hertz|
|Where written||Saint Petersburg|
|Autograph Location||Moscow (Russia): Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum|
|Publication|| (1940), p. 484–485|
(1970), p. 86
(1981), p. 174–175.
Text and Translation
By Luis Sundkvist
23 August 1893
Sehr geehrter Herr!
Die Musik[,] die ich vor einigen JahrenHamlet geschrieben habe, ist eigentlich kein ernstes Kunstwerk. Ich habe sie nämlich für einem Freunde sehr schnell gemacht[,] nur um ihm das zu schaffen[,] auf der drucken zu . Sie ist für ein ganz Orchester orchestrirt und passt zu einem grossen Kaiserlichen Theater nicht. Daher rahte ich Ihnen[,] meine so genannte Hamlet-Musik nicht zu spielen. Ich habe eine grosse Hamlet-Ouvertüre componirt; könnten sie spielen, aber sie ist zu gross, mehr eine Simphonische Dichtung als Ouvertüre und braucht einen sehr Orchester.
Ich empfehle Ihnen dieHamlet-Musik von Henschel.
Jedenfalls kann ich Ihnen inVerlegenheit nicht helfen, da ich selbst vollständig vergessen habe[,] wie und wann, d. h. bei welchen Scenen und Worten die Musik einfallen soll.
Most respected Sir!
The music for Hamlet which I wrote a few years ago is not really a serious work of art. I wrote it in fact very quickly for the benefit performance of a friend , just to afford him the pleasure of being able to print my name on the playbill. It is scored for a very small orchestra and is not suitable for a large imperial theatre. I therefore recommend you not to play my so-called Hamlet music . I have composed a big Hamlet overture: you could play that, though it is too big—more of a symphonic poem than an overture—and requires a very strong orchestra.
In any case, I cannot help you out of your predicament, because I have myself completely forgotten how and when, i.e. at which scenes and lines the music is supposed to set in.
I beg your forgiveness.
Your most devoted,
Notes and References
- This appears to have been a slip of the pen by Tchaikovsky, who was in Saint Petersburg at this time.
- The French actor Lucien Guitry.
- Michał Hertz had written (in German) to Tchaikovsky on 16/28 August 1893, explaining that the Warsaw Theatre intended to stage Shakespeare's Hamlet using Tchaikovsky's incidental music. He asked Tchaikovsky if he could provide more specific indications as to the scenes and lines in the play which were meant to be illustrated by the musical numbers in the score published by Jurgenson. Hertz's letter is included in (1940), p. 482–483.
- The German-born British singer, conductor and composer Sir George Henschel (1850–1934) composed his incidental music to Hamlet for the actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree's acclaimed production of the tragedy at the Haymarket Theatre, London, in 1892. Tchaikovsky had been acquainted with Henschel since 1875, and during his last visit to London in June 1893 he spent some time with Henschel and his family. It is likely that on this occasion Henschel showed him the score of his incidental music for Hamlet which had been published in September 1892 — see (1980), p. 401–402.