Letter 3176

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 10/22 February 1887
Addressed to Félix Mackar
Where written Maydanovo
Language French
Autograph Location Paris (France): Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département de la Musique
Publication Revue de musicologie, tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 59
Советская музыка (1970), No. 9, p. 65 (Russian translation)
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 43–44

Text and Translation

French text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
10/22 février 1887

Mon cher et bon ami!

C'est bien dommage que l'audience n'ait pu être remise, – mais il n'y a rien à faire. Merci, mon excellent ami[,] pour toutes les peines que V[ou]s V[ou]s donnez et pour tout ce que V[ou]s faites pour la propagation de ma musique à Paris. Puissent Vos efforts être couronnés d'un vrai succès et espérons que tel sera le cas! Je suis vraiment touché de la confiance que V[ou]s avez en mes œuvres et de Votre amitié. Merci, merci et merci!!!

J'ai ecrit à tous ces Messieurs, ainsi qu'à M[ada]me Conneau, mais comme je ne sais pas les adresses, veuillez remettre ces lettres. Comme V[ou]s me l'avez dit, j'ai prié Diemer de remercier en mon nom M[essieu]rs Brunet et Mas. Ne V[ou]s ai-je pas ecrit que mon opera a été representé trois fois de suite sous ma direction. On prétend que je ne manque pas de talent comme chef d'orchestre et si V[ou]s saviez comme cela me réjouit!!! On m'a fait des ovations sans fin. Ma maisonnette est toute pleine de couronnes que l'on m'a présentées. En ce moment je suis tout au travail : – je termine la partition de piano du nouvel opera qui sera donné (en) Octobre prochain à Petersbourg et il est plus que probable que de là je prendrai mon vol pour Paris. J'ai besoin de me distraire et ce sera pour moi un grand plaisir que de me trouver dans ce cher Paris et d'y retrouver mes amis, Vous en tête. Mille choses à M[ada]me Mackar et à M[onsieu]r Condemine. Au revoir.

P. Tschaïkovsky

10/22 February 1887

My dear and kind friend!

It is a great pity that the audition could not be deferred, but it can't be helped [1] Thank you, my splendid friend, for all the trouble which you are taking, and for everything that you are doing for the propagation of my music in Paris. May your efforts be crowned by a genuine success, and let us hope that this will be the case! [2] I am genuinely touched by the faith which you have in my works and by your friendship. Many, many thanks!!!

I have written to all those gentlemen, as well as to Madame Conneau, but since I don't know their addresses, could you please forward these letters. As you suggested to me, I have asked Diémer to thank Messieurs Brunet and Mas on my behalf [3]. I think I already wrote to you that my opera was performed under my direction three times in a row. People are saying that I am not without talent as a conductor — if you knew how much that gladdens me!!! I received endless ovations. My little house is packed full with the wreaths I was presented with. Right now I am busy at work: I am completing the piano score of my new opera which will be staged in Petersburg in October, and it is very likely that after that I shall fly off to Paris [4]. I need a break, and it will be a great pleasure for me to find myself in that dear city of Paris and to see my friends there, above all you [5]. A thousand kind regards for Madame Mackar [6] and Monsieur Condemine [7]. Farewell.

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. In an earlier letter Mackar had informed Tchaikovsky that he had organized a recital, or audition, of his works which was to take place at the Salle Érard on 11/23 February 1887, and he asked the composer whether he would be able to come to Paris for that. Tchaikovsky had replied in early/mid February that he could not make the journey to Paris because he was due to conduct a concert of his works in Saint Petersburg in early/mid March which would require lots of rehearsals beforehand; he had, however, asked Mackar whether it might not be possible to put off the audition to a later date, since he was sorry to have to miss it (Letter 3170). Mackar had evidently written again to explain that the audition could not be re-scheduled. Neither of these letters from Mackar is among those published in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), and it is possible that they have not survived at all.
  2. The recital of Tchaikovsky's works at the Salle Érard on 11/23 February 1887 was reportedly a great success. On the programme were the Sérénade mélancolique (in Tchaikovsky's own arrangement for violin and piano; played by the Belgian violinist Martin Pierre Marsick, with Anatoly Brandukov accompanying on the piano); the Nocturne, No. 4 of the Six Pieces, Op. 19, for piano, arranged for solo cello and piano (played by Brandukov, with Marsick accompanying); the Piano Trio (played by Louis Diémer, Brandukov, and Marsick); Nos. 1, 2, 5, and 6 from the Six Romances, Op. 6 (sung by Juliette Conneau); the Polonaise from Yevgeny Onegin in Liszt's transcription for piano; Chant sans paroles, No. 3 from Souvenir de Hapsal, Op. 2; Polka de salon, No. 2 of the Three Pieces, Op. 9; Mazurka, No. 5 of the Twelve Pieces, Op. 40; and Romance, No. 5 of the Six Pieces, Op. 51 (all played by Diémer). Mackar's advertisement in the newspapers also mentioned that the violist Joseph-Louis-Marie Mas and the violinist Alfred Brun were due to play at the recital (presumably to join Marsick and Brandukov in a performance of the String Quartet No. 1), but it is not clear whether they actually did.
  3. In his letter to Tchaikovsky which has not been published, and which may not even have survived, Mackar had evidently urged the composer to write to the musicians involved in the recital of his works in order to thank them in advance. In his diary entry for 10/22 February 1887 Tchaikovsky duly noted: "Succeeded, before supper, in writing a lot of letters to Paris concerning the audience for my works" (quoted from The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1973), p. 154). Tchaikovsky's letters to Marsick and Juliette Conneau have not come to light, but his letter to Diémer recently turned up at an auction: like the above letter to Mackar it is dated 10/22 February 1887 and in it Tchaikovsky does indeed ask the pianist to thank Brun and Mas on his behalf (see Letter 3177b).
  4. Tchaikovsky's new opera The Enchantress was premiered at the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre on 20 October/1 November 1887, with the composer himself conducting, but he did not travel to Paris immediately afterwards. Two months later, though, he was to embark on his first European conducting tour which included several concerts in Paris in February/March 1888.
  5. In 1887 Tchaikovsky visited Paris only very briefly, from 2/14 to 4/16 August. On the last day he was able to spend some time with Mackar and his wife.
  6. Mackar's wife, Valérie. In 1888, Tchaikovsky would dedicate to her one of the prints made by the Hamburg photographer E. Bieber on 6/18 January 1888. He wrote on it the following inscription: "Madame Valérie Mackar souvenir affectueux" and sketched three bars from the Andante cantabile of his String Quartet No. 1 — see Čajkovskij et la France. À propos de quelques lettres de Čajkovskij à Félix Mackar (1968), p. 94. The portrait in question appears as Photograph No. 60 in our Catalogue of Photographs.
  7. Henri Condemine, a pianist and friend of Mackar's whom Tchaikovsky had met at the publisher's house in the previous summer.