Letter 37

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 28 October/9 November 1851
Addressed to Aleksandra Tchaikovskaya and Ilya Tchaikovsky
Where written Saint Petersburg
Language French
Autograph Location Saint Petersburg (Russia): National Library of Russia (ф. 834, ед. хр. 33, л. 53–54)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 34
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 39

Text and Translation

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

French text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Mes chers et bons anges
Papa et Maman

Déja les derniers jours du mois d'Oktobre déja l'hiver s'achemine à grands pas pour remplacer l'autômne, il n'y a plus ni de feuilles vertes, ni de gazon, le soleil en se fachant ne brille et ne réchauffe plus, on n'entend plus le beau ramage des hirondelles, on ne voit plus le ciel d'azur, et toute la nature semble s'atrister.

De quoi donc? est alle fachée, se fâchte t'elle? de ce que l'autômne est trop lente? Oui! c'est la cause de sa tristesse, elle veut que le moi de Janvier arriver plus vite, elle veut que le moi de Juin arrive plus vite, elle veut que toute la création devienne denouveau heureuse; oui! c'est-ce que je veux aussi... moi... je veux revoir un mélange de vert avec toutes les couleurs imaginables mais ce que je veux le plus, je veux revoir mes anges!

La Néva pas longtemps s'est couverte de glaçons, et il n'y a plus de ponts. C'est pourquoi chaque Samedi M. Platon a beaucoup de dificulté à envoyer nous chercher. Encore je vous prie un oui!... et un non. C'est tout ce que je veux.

Adieu, mes Anges, Papa et Maman. Je baise tout le monde. Je prie votre bénédiction.

Pierre Tschaikovsky

le 28 Octobre l'an 1851

My dear and kind angels
Papa and Mama

We are already in the last days of October; winter is already approaching in great strides to replace autumn; there are no more green leaves nor grass; the sun, having become angry, no longer shines or warms; one can no longer hear the beautiful chirping of the swallows; one can no longer see the azure sky, and all Nature seems to grow sad.

But why? Is she angry because autumn is too slow? Yes! that is the cause of her sadness; she wants January to come more quickly, she wants June to come more quickly, she wants all of Creation to become happy again. Yes! it is what I want too... I... I want to see again a blend of green with all the conceivable colours; but what I want most of all is to see my angels again![1]

Not long ago, the Neva was covered by ice, and there are no bridges any more [2]. It is for this reason that M. Platon [Vakar] has great trouble sending someone to fetch us each Saturday [3]. I ask you once again for a yes!... and a no. That's all I want.

Goodbye, my Angels, Papa and Mama. I kiss everyone. I ask for your blessing.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

28th of October 1851

Notes and References

  1. During his visit to Saint Petersburg in September 1851, Ilya Tchaikovsky had explained to his sons Nikolay and Pyotr, who were attending boarding-schools in the Imperial capital, that the whole family would be moving from Alapayevsk to Saint Petersburg the following year. This would take place in early/mid-May 1852.
  2. Temporary wooden bridges across the Neva River would be constructed each spring when the drifting of ice had ceased, and would be removed temporarily in the autumn when ice floes began to appear. The first permanent bridge in Saint Petersburg — the Nikolayevsky Bridge joining Vasilyevsky Island and the central part of the city — was inaugurated in 1850.
  3. Platon Alekseyevich Vakar (1826-1899) was the guardian of young Pyotr and his brother Nikolay from early/mid-May 1851 until Ilya Tchaikovsky was able to move to Saint Petersburg with the rest of the family in May 1852. Although the School of Jurisprudence where Pyotr was studying (as yet only in its preparatory class) was a boarding-school, on Sundays and other holidays he was allowed to stay at his guardian's house.