Letter 59

Date 12/24 August 1861
Addressed to Ilya Tchaikovsky
Where written Paris
Language Russian
Autograph Location Saint Petersburg (Russia): National Library of Russia (ф. 834, ед. хр. 33, л. 85–86)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 54–55
П. И. Чайковский. Письма к близким. Избранное (1955), p. 9–10
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 68–69
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Letters to his family. An autobiography (1981), p. 8–9 (English translation)

Text and Translation

Russian text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Париж,
12/24 августа

Извините, драгоценный Папаша, что довольно долго молчал. В Париже поневоле закружишься и забудешься. Мы приехали сюда 2/14 августа, накануне именин Наполеона, праздновавшихся с большим великолепием, и на другой день утром встретились с Юферовым. Вы можете себе представить, как я был рад его увидеть, с какою жадностью я выслушивал все петербургские известия о Вас и всех других близких сердцу! Весь этот день мы прошатались по празднику. Иллюминации и фейерверк были баснословно хороши, и энтузиазм всеобщий. И это те самые французы, которые десять лет тому назад бесновались о республике? Потом отыскал и Николая Ивановича. Мы с ним вместе обедали и много смеялись. Лида живёт в Нормандии на морских купаньях, и Николай Иванович тоже туда отправился. Вообще жизнь в Париже чрезвычайно приятна. В нём можно делать всё, что угодно, но только скучать нет никакой возможности. Стоит выйти на бульвары, и уж весело. Мы поселились вместе с Юферовым и целый день не расстаёмся; когда дома, то играем на очень порядочном фортепиано, взятом на прокат за пятнадцать франков в месяц. За квартиру же платим втроём 150 франков. Доставляем себе многие удовольствия, которые вообще не дороги, но и не забываем посещать судебные места. О подробностях расскажу Вам устно. В театрах бываем почти каждый день и в опере были два раза («Трубадур» и «Гугеноты»). И исполнение и самые театры, конечно, гораздо ниже, чем в Петербурге, но постановка замечательно хороша и много ensembl'у. Что касается до Bal mabill'а и т. п., то не могу сказать, чтоб это было особенно хорошо. Театры доставляют большое удовольствие. Через неделю я поеду погостить к Лиде Ольховской и кстати покупаюсь. Что дальше будет, не знаю, во всяком случае в конце сентября я дома. Поцелуйте покрепче Толю и Модю и скажите им, что я постоянно о них думаю. 16 августа мысленно буду присутствовать на их экзамене. Не забудьте, Папаша, сказать экзаминаторам, что Толя и Модя приготовлены для 1-го, старшего отделения. Что они мне не пишут? Поцелуйте также Машуру и благодарите её за милую приписку. То же самое и доброй моей Авдотье Яковлевне. Мина и Катя уже в Институте вероятно? Получили от Вас ещё письма.

Целую Вас и обнимаю.
П. Чайковский

Paris
12/24 August [1861]

I apologize, precious Papasha, for having been silent for quite a while. In Paris one cannot help becoming giddy and forgetting oneself. We [1] arrived here on 2/14 August, on the eve of Napoleon's nameday, which was celebrated with great pomp and splendour, and the next morning we met up with Yuferov [2]. You can imagine how glad I was to see him and with what eagerness I listened to all his news from Petersburg about you and all the others who are close to my heart! During that whole day we strolled round the festivities. The illuminations and fireworks were fabulously good, and the enthusiasm was universally shared. And these are the same Frenchmen who ten years ago were raving about the Republic?! Afterwards I also managed to find Nikolay Ivanovich [3]. We had dinner together and laughed a lot. Lida [4] is staying at a seaside resort in Normandy, and Nikolay Ivanovich has now also gone there. On the whole, life in Paris is extremely agreeable. In this place you can do anything you like, the only impossible thing being to feel bored. You only have to go out into the boulevards for your spirits immediately to rise. Yuferov and I have settled in together, and we are inseparable all day long. When we are at home we play on a very decent piano which we have hired for fifteen francs a month. As for the flat we are renting, we are paying 150 francs between the three of us. We are treating ourselves to lots of pleasures which in general are not expensive, though we also don't forget to visit the law-courts. I shall tell you all the details orally. We go to the theatres almost every day, and have been to the opera twice ("Il Trovatore" and "Les Huguenots"). Both the level of performance and the theatres as such are, of course, far inferior to what we have in Petersburg, but the staging is remarkably good and there is a lot of ensemble. As for the Bal Mabille [5] etc., I cannot say that this is particularly good. The theatres are a source of great pleasure. In a week's time I am leaving to stay with Lida Olkhovskaya for a while, and I shall also make use of the opportunity to do some bathing. What will happen afterwards, I don't know, but in any case I shall be back home by the end of September. Kiss Tolya and Modya really warmly, and tell them that I am constantly thinking about them. On the 16th of August I shall, in my thoughts, be present at their exam. Don't forget, Papasha, to tell the examiners that Tolya and Modya have been prepared for the first (i.e. senior) section [6]. Why don't they write to me? Kiss Mashura [7] as well and thank her for her sweet postscript. The same goes for my good Avdotya Yakovlevna. Mina and Katya are probably already at the Institute, aren't they? [8] We have received some more letters from you.

I kiss and embrace you.
P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Tchaikovsky was travelling abroad (it was his first trip outside Russia) in the capacity of an interpreter and travelling companion for Vasily Vasilyevich Pisarev, an engineer and acquaintance of his father's. Pisarev had agreed to pay all his travel expenses  [back]
  2. Vladimir Nikolayevich Yuferov (b. 1839) was, like Tchaikovsky, a recent graduate of the School of Jurisprudence (though he had studied there in the year above him) and a friend of Apukhtin's. He was later appointed state prosecutor in Odessa and was also involved in industrial and banking enterprises. See Пётр Чайковский. Биография, том I (2009), p. 139  [back]
  3. Nikolay Ivanovich Olkhovsky (1819-1868) was the husband of Tchaikovsky's cousin Lidiya (see note below). He was director of the Saint Petersburg Mint, as well as a playwright (pseudonym "Onyx") whose plays were very popular in their time. See Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 1 (1997), p. 131, note 1  [back]
  4. Lidiya Vladimirovna Olkhovskaya (née Tchaikovskaya; 1836-1892), a cousin and childhood playmate of the composer's. She was the daughter of Ilya Tchaikovsky's elder brother, Vladimir Tchaikovsky. Lidiya had lost her mother when she was quite little, in 1842, and had been effectively adopted by Tchaikovsky's parents  [back]
  5. A fashionable open-air dancing establishment on the Avenue Montaigne. The cancan was reportedly first danced there  [back]
  6. Like Tchaikovsky ten years earlier, the twins Anatoly and Modest were seeking to be admitted into the so-called preparatory class of the School of Jurisprudence. This preparatory class had two "sections", the first one being for pupils who had shown sufficient academic aptitude. After attending the first section for a year, pupils could take the entrance exams into the school proper  [back]
  7. Marya ('Mashurochka') Egorovna Foss was a nanny and governess employed by the family of Tchaikovsky's aunt, Yelizaveta Shobert  [back]
  8. Vilgelmina ('Mina') and Yekaterina ('Katya') were younger sisters of Tchaikovsky's cousin Amaliya Litke. Like his own sister Aleksandra a few years earlier, they seem to have been attending the Smolny Institute for girls of the nobility  [back]