Letter 548a

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Date 13/25 April 1877
Addressed to Frits Hartvigson
Where written Moscow
Language French
Autograph Location Paris (France): Private collection
Publication Čajkovskijs Homosexualität und sein Tod. Legenden und Wirklichkeit (1998), p. 225–226 (French text, with German translation, p. 226–227)

Text and Translation

French text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Moscou. 13/25 Avril 1877
Cher et excellent ami!

Si je répond si tard à la charmante et délicieuse lettre que V[ou]s m'avez ecrite, c'est que j'étais absent. Nous avons eu une quinzaine de jours de vacences, et je suis allé au gouvernement de Kief pour voir ma soeur. Je V[ou]s remercie infiniment cher Mr Hartvigson pour l'honneur que V[ou]s m'avez fait de jouer mon concert. Vous n'avez nullement besoin de m'assurer que V[ou]s avez fait des progrès, pour me faire croire que mon oeuvre a été bien interpretée. J'ai toujours été Votre grand admirateur; j'aime infiniment Votre jeu plein de vigueur, d'eclat, d'energie et de poésie en mème temps. Oh! combien je déplore que je n'ai pu assister au concert de "St James' Hall". Avec quel immense plaisir j'aurai entendre ma composition jouée par Vous et accompagnée par un orchestre aussi excellent que celui de Manns!

Klindworth m'a raconté la petite anecdote concernant l'opinion de Joachim sur mon concert. Cela ne m'a nullement etonné. Je sais bien qu'il se passera beaucoup de temps jusqu'à ce que les sommités musicales allemandes admettent qu'un russe habitant Moscou aie le droit de composer. Tout le monde ne peut avoir la largeur de vue, l'impartialité et le jugement droit et honnète de Bülow. Jusqu'au dernier moment de ma vie je n'oublierai l'acceuil simpathique et amical que cet homme a fait à mon concert.

Vous me demandez le nom du copiste qui a ecrit la partition que je V[ou]s ai envoyée. C'est un certain Mr Langer, frère du professeur de notre Conservatoire que V[ou]s connaissez probablement. Il sert chez nous comme bibliothécaire et si V[ou]s avez besoin de lui un jour, V[ou]s n'avez qu'à me le faire savoir. Je lui ai dit l'opinion flatteuse que V[ou]s avez de sa manière d'ecrire et il en est tout fier.

Quant au prix de la copie, nous en parlerons un jour que nous nous rencontrerons ici ou à l'etranger. Si V[ou]s vouliez me faire un grand plaisir, V[ou]s accepteriez cette copie comme un petit présent de ma part. Vraiment, cher ami, j'en serais tout heureux.

Merci, merci et merci! Je V[ou]s serre cordialement la main.

Votre dévoué
P. Tchaïkovsky

Rubinstein et tous les autre[s] Vous remercient et me chargent de V[ou]s rendre leur salut.

Moscow. 13/25 April 1877.
Dear and excellent friend!

If I am replying so late to the charming and exquisite letter which you wrote to me, it is because I was away. We have had a fortnight's holiday, and I went to the Kiev province in order to visit my sister. I thank you infinitely, dear Monsieur Hartvigson, for the honour which you have done to me by playing my concerto [1]. There is no need whatsoever for you to assure me that you have been making progress in order to convince me that my work was performed well. I have always been a great admirer of yours; I love immeasurably your playing, which is full of strength, brilliance, energy, and at the same time poetry. O, how I regret that I was unable to attend the concert at the St James' Hall! With what immense pleasure I would have listened to my composition played by you and accompanied by such an excellent orchestra as that of Manns!

Klindworth has told me the little anecdote regarding Joachim's opinion about my concerto [2]. This is by no means a surprise to me. I know very well that a long time will pass before the German musical luminaries accept that a Russian living in Moscow has the right to compose. Not everyone can have the far-sightedness, impartiality, and upright and honest judgement of Bülow. To the last moment of my life I shall never forget the sympathetic and friendly reception which this man gave to my concerto [3].

You ask me for the name of the copyist who wrote out the score which I sent you. It is a certain Monsieur Langer, the brother of a professor at our Conservatory whom you probably know. He works as a librarian at our institution, and if you should ever have need of him, just let me know. I have passed on to him the flattering opinion which you have of his way of writing, and he is very proud of it.

As for the price of the copy, we shall discuss this later on some day, when we meet here or abroad. If you would like to give me great joy, please do accept this copy as a little present from me. Truly, dear friend, it would make me most happy.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you! I shake your hand cordially

Your devoted
P. Tchaikovsky

Rubinstein and all the others thank you and ask me to pass on their regards to you.

Notes and References

<references> [1] [2] [3]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hartvigson, who had been sent a handwritten copy of the score of the Piano Concerto No. 1 by Pyotr Jurgenson, performed the concerto at one of the concerts conducted by August Manns (1825–1907) in the St James's Hall, London, on 5/17 March 1877 (see Letter 515 to Jurgenson, written between 1/13 and 5/17 December 1876, in which Tchaikovsky asks his publisher to attend to Hartvigson's request for a copy of the score. Hartvigson was not the first pianist, though, to play Tchaikovsky's concerto in England—Edward Dannreuther gave the first British performance at the Crystal Palace, London, on 23 March 1876 [N.S.].
  2. 2.0 2.1 It has not been possible to establish what anecdote concerning the great violinist Joseph Joachim's opinion of the First Piano Concerto was relayed to Tchaikovsky by Karl Klindworth.
  3. 3.0 3.1 In contrast to Nikolay Rubinstein, Hans von Bülow had been enthusiastic about Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 from the very start and he had premièred the work at the Music Hall in Boston (USA) on 25 October 1875 [N.S.] in a concert conducted by Benjamin Johnson Lang. This was a great boost to Tchaikovsky's morale after the harsh criticisms which he had heard from his friend Rubinstein.