Letter 11

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 23 November/5 December 1850
Addressed to Aleksandra Tchaikovskaya and Ilya Tchaikovsky
Where written Saint Petersburg
Language Russian
Autograph Location Saint Petersburg (Russia): National Library of Russia (ф. 834, ед. хр. 33, л. 5–6)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 13–14
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 15–16
Notes Dated on the basis of a postscript added to this letter by Tchaikovsky's guardian, Modest Vakar, which is dated 23 November 1850 [1].

Text and Translation

Spelling and punctuation errors in the original text have not been indicated.

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Милые и прекрасные Папаша и Мамаша. Целую вас крепко мои милые в ручки, ножки и всё тело ваше.

Прошлое воскресение Николенька здесь не был оттого что Коля Вакар очень болен, у него сделалась нервическая горячка и оттого теперь у Модеста Алексеевича очень скучно.

Вот уж шесть недель как я у Модеста Алексеевича и надеюсь что будущее Воскресенье меня потребуют в приготовительный класс. Мне всё-таки ужасно хочется поцеловать ваши ручки мои прекра[сные] Папачка и Мамачка и потому с нетерпением жду будущего счастливого для меня и Коле Февраля.

Перед прошедшим воскресение был у нас дядинька Пётр Петрович, который приходил с Илинькой нас увидеть. Он такой добрый старичок! Прошлою неделю начался пост и вы верно поститесь мои Ангелы потому что в те счастливые времена когда я был с вами вы всегда это делали; и я теперь вспоминаю с каким удовольствием и радостью мы получали от вас ёлку но между Сашей, Полей, Малей, Катей и Миной я не буду участвовать, но по крайней мере буду об этом вспоминать. Поцелуйте за меня мои прекрасные Зину, Сашу, Полю, Толю и Модю и милых кузин. Кланяйтесь также Тёте Лизе, Сестрице, Настасье Петровне и Немкам. Когда будете писать M[ademois]elle Fanny, то пожалуйста поклонитесь ей от меня. С нетерпением ожидаю первого вашего пись[ма], я ещё не имел этой счастливой минуты чтоб поцеловать бумажку на которой были ваши ручки.

Целую миллионы раз ваши ручки и прошу вашего благословления. Ваш сын,

Пётр Чайковский

Dear and wonderful Papasha and Mamasha. I kiss you warmly, my dear ones, on your hands, feet, and your whole bodies.

Last Sunday Nikolenka didn't come here because Kolya Vakar is very ill: he has a nervous fever, and because of this it is now very depressing at Modest Alekseyevich's [2].

It is now six weeks that I have been living at Modest Alekseyevich's, and I hope that next Sunday I will be asked back into the preparatory class. All the same, I awfully want to kiss your hands, my wonderful Papachka and Mamachka, and so I am impatiently awaiting next February, which will be so happy for me and Kolya.

On the Sunday before last, Uncle Pyotr Petrovich was here: he came with Ilyinka [3] to see us. He is such a kind little old man! Last week the fast began, and you are probably fasting, my Angels, because in those happy times when I was with you, you always did this; and I remember now with what pleasure and joy we would receive the Christmas-tree from you[.] [Although this time] I shall not be taking part together with Sasha, Polya, Malya, Katya and Mina [4], still I shall at least remember that. Kiss for me my wonderful Zina, Sasha, Polya, Tolya and Modya, and my dear cousins. Give my regards also to Aunt Liza, Sestritsa [5], Nastasya Petrovna [6] and the German ladies. When you write to Mademoiselle Fanny, please do send her my regards. I am impatiently awaiting your first letter; I still haven't had that happy moment when I can kiss the piece of paper on which your hands have been.

I kiss your hands a million times and ask for your blessing. Your son,

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Note by Vladimir Zhdanov in П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 660.
  2. Shortly after young Pyotr's enrolment in the School of Jurisprudence's preparatory class in October 1850, there had been an outbreak of scarlet fever in the school, and Modest Alekseyevich Vakar, a friend of Ilya Tchaikovsky's who had agreed to act as Pyotr's guardian, decided to take him into his house until the epidemic was over. Pyotr's brother Nikolay, or 'Nikolenka', (who was two years older) was also a boarder in Saint Petersburg, though not at the School of Jurisprudence, but at the city's Mining College. On Sundays and other holidays he was allowed to come to the Vakars' house to visit his brother. Nikolay, or Kolya, was the five-year-old son of Modest Vakar. Shortly after Pyotr joined the Vakar household Kolya contracted scarlet fever (evidently brought into the house by Pyotr), but his parents pretended that it was just measles or a "nervous fever" so that Pyotr would not start reproaching himself. Little Kolya's death the following day after this letter was written proved a traumatic experience for the future composer.
  3. The composer's cousin, Ilya Petrovich Tchaikovsky (1837–1891), the eldest son of his uncle Pyotr Petrovich Tchaikovsky.
  4. Vilgelmina ('Mina') and Yekaterina ('Katya') were younger sisters of Tchaikovsky's cousin Amaliya Schobert (later Litke).
  5. 'Sestritsa', or 'little sister', was the affectionate name for Tchaikovsky's cousin, Anastasiya Vasilyevna Popova (1807–1894), the daughter of Ilya Tchaikovsky's older sister Yevdokiya Popova.
  6. Anastasya Petrovna Petrova (1824–1893) had joined the Tchaikovsky family in Alapayevsk on 24 November/6 December 1849 as a governess, specifically with the task of preparing Pyotr for the School of Jurisprudence in Saint Petersburg. After spending some three years with the Tchaikovskys she worked as a governess in various other families, but returned to her first employer in 1859, when she took charge of the twins, Anatoly and Modest.