Letter 13

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 17/29 December 1850 [1]
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. 9–10)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 14–15
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 17
Notes Spelling and punctuation errors in the original text have not been indicated.

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Милые Папаша и Мамаша!

Вы не можете вообразить себе как я был рад, когда получил ваше письмо, милые и прекрасные мои ангелы. Я читал и перечитывал множество раз ваше письмо и целовал мысленно ваши ручки, писавшие это милое письмо.

Но вот уж скоро настанет тот месяц, которого я жду с нетерпением, и когда я действительно поцелую ваши прекрасные ручки; кажется, что тогда я буду как в раю. Извините, милая Мамашенька, что я вас также жду к Февралю но у меня есть какое-то причувствие, что я вас увижу и расцелую. Я вижу, что Коля гораздо твёрже меня характером, потому что он не так скучал.

Мне надо вам сказать, милая Мамаша, что Коля Вакар после непродолжительной нервической горячке умер.

Вчера за мной Модест Алексеевич посылал, но я не мог идти ибо многие из моих товарищей, пока я был у него перегнали меня в науках, потому что прежде явились; атак как у нас будущую неделю будет экзамен, то я воспользовался этим Воскресением, чтобы хотя немного, но лучше приготовиться.

Пишите мне по чаще, мои прекрасные, оттого что я очень без вас скучаю. Поцелйуте за меня Тётю Лизу, Сестрицу Настасью Васильевну, милых сестёр Зину и Сашу и милого брата Полю. Расцелуйте за меня прекрасных Модю и Толю, воображаю какие они Ангельчики.

Поклонитесь Настасье Петровне. Поклонитесь также милому, Адольфу Богдановичу и всему его семейству, особенно милой старушки. Прощайте, милые Папаша и Мамаша, целую ваши ручки и прошу вашего благословления. Ваш сын,

Пётр Чайковский

Dear Papasha and Mamasha!

You cannot imagine how glad I was when I received your letter, my dear and wonderful angels. I read and re-read your letter lots of times, and mentally I kissed your hands which had written this sweet letter.

Yet, soon the month will come which I am awaiting impatiently, and in which I really shall get to kiss your wonderful hands. I think that I shall then be as in paradise. I'm sorry, dear Mamashenka, that I'm also expecting you to come in February, but I have a kind of presentiment that I shall get to see you and smother you with kisses. I can see that Kolya is of a far firmer character than I am, because he hasn't been missing you so much.

I have to tell you, dear Mamasha, that Kolya Vakar died after a nervous fever of short duration [2].

Yesterday Modest Alekseyevich [Vakar] sent for me, but I couldn't go, because during the time that I was living at his house many of my classmates managed to overtake me in our studies (because they turned up before me); and since we have an exam next week, I have made use of this Sunday to prepare myself better, even if it is just a little bit.

Write to me more often, my wonderful ones, because I am very sad without you. Kiss for me Aunt Liza, Sestritsa Nastasya Vasilyevna [3], my dear sisters Zina and Sasha, and dear brother Polya. Smother Modya and Tolya with kisses from me: I can imagine what little Angels they must be.

Give my regards to Nastasya Petrovna [4]. Give my regards also to dear Adolf Bogdanovich [5] and all his family, especially to the dear old woman. Goodbye, dear Papasha and Mamasha, I kiss your hands and ask for your blessing. Your son,

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Dated on the basis of the following: this letter was written shortly after the letter of 10/22 December (Letter 12), but before the beginning of the Christmas holidays; moreover, it was written on a Sunday, as we find out from the letter itself, and so this leaves us with Sunday, 17/29 October as the only possible date—note by Vladimir Zhdanov in П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 660.
  2. Nikolay, or 'Kolya', was the five-year-old son of Modest Vakar, a friend of Ilya Tchaikovsky's who had agreed to act as young Pyotr's guardian in Saint Petersburg, and who had in fact taken Pyotr into his house shortly after his enrolment in the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in October 1850 because of an epidemic of scarlet fever which had broken out in the school. Pyotr lived with the Vakars for about seven weeks before returning to the school as a boarder. Unfortunately, he had brought the scarlet fever infection into his guardian's house and little Kolya contracted this disease and died on 24 November/6 December 1850. Vakar and his wife concealed from Pyotr the fact that their son had scarlet fever and told him instead that it was measles or a "nervous fever", so that he would not torment himself with self-reproach.
  3. 'Sestritsa', or 'little sister', was the affectionate name for Tchaikovsky's much older cousin, Anastasiya Vasilyevna Popova (1807–1894), the daughter of Ilya Tchaikovsky's older sister Yevdokiya Popova.
  4. 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.
  5. An unidentified person.