Letter 21

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 22 April/4 May 1851
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. 25–26)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 23
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 26
Notes Spelling and punctuation errors in the original text have not been indicated.

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
22 апреля 1851 года

Милые Папаша и Мамаша!

Сегодня мы у добрейшего Ив[ана] Ив[ановича] Вейца и останемся может быть до завтраго вечера.

В Среду я был на балу в дворянском собрании с господином Berrard. Там было очень весело и я выиграл на фартунке маленькую статую, изобра[жа]ющую солдата в трехугольной шляпе и ризинку обделанную слоновой костью.

Третьего дня я получил от вас письмо, в котором вы верно помните, что вы писали мои Ангельчики и от которого я делал то же и что вы моя душичка Мамаша! и постараюсь исполнить то что вы мне писали.

На балу я много танцовал и видел государя так близко как Папашин диван стоит от его конторки в кабинете; видите, как я все хорошо помню; я встретился также с Ф. С. Чернышевым, которой шел с нашим директором т. е. Языков[ым] — они друзья. Я узнал его сейчас но не хотел сказать; а он меня потом узнал и долго со мной говорил.

Прощайте милые и прекрасные мои Ангелы, целую вас с ног до головы и прошу вашего благословления! Ваш сын,

Пётр Чайковский

22 April 1851

Dear Papasha and Mamasha!

Today we are at the house of most kind Ivan Ivanovich Veits and we shall perhaps stay here until tomorrow evening [1].

On Wednesday, I was at a ball in the Assembly of Nobility with Mr Bérard [2]. It was very merry there, and at the tombola I won a small statuette depicting a soldier with a three-cornered hat, and an eraser set in ivory.

The day before yesterday, I received a letter from you, in which you probably remember what you wrote, my little Angels, and as a result of which I did the same as you, my darling Mamasha! And I shall try to carry out everything that you wrote to me.

At the ball I danced a lot and saw the Sovereign [Nicholas I] as closely as Papa's divan is from the writing-desk in his study (see how I remember all that so well). I also met F. S. Chernyshev [3], who was walking [in the ball-room] with our director, that is, Yazykov [4]: they are friends. I recognized him immediately but didn't want to say so; he did recognize me afterwards, and he spoke to me a long time.

Goodbye, my dear and wonderful Angels; I kiss you from head to toe and ask for your blessing. Your son,

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. After their first guardian, Modest Alekseyevich Vakar (a friend of their father's), left Saint Petersburg in April 1851 to settle elsewhere, young Pyotr and his brother Nikolay, two years his senior, were briefly under the tutelage of Ivan Ivanovich Veits, another close friend of Ilya Tchaikovsky's. Pyotr and Nikolay were both boarders at their respective institutions — the School of Jurisprudence and the Mining College — but on Sundays and other holidays they were allowed to stay at their guardian's house.
  2. Joseph Bérard (known in Russia as Iosif Iosifovich Berar; 1800-1883) taught literature and French at the School of Jurisprudence, including in the preparatory class which Pyotr was attending at the time. He was the latter's favourite teacher. See Пётр Чайковский. Биография, том I (2009), p. 46.
  3. Fyodor Sergeyevich Chernyshev (1805-1869), general in the imperial army and author of A Soldier's Tale (Солдатская сказка), which was very popular at the time — note based on information in П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 751.
  4. Major General Aleksandr Petrovich Yazykov (1802-1878), director of the Imperial School of Jurisprudence from 1849 to 1877; he had formerly been police commissioner in Riga and introduced strict disciplinary measures into the school. For more information on him and on the School of Jurisprudence generally, see Tchaikovsky. The quest for the inner man (1993), chapter 2, and the same author's more recent Russian book, Пётр Чайковский. Биография, том I (2009), chapter 2.