Letter 3819a

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 5/17 March 1889
Addressed to Mathilde Cossmann
Where written Hannover
Language French
Autograph Location unknown
Publication Peter Jljitsch Tschaikowsky (1900) (facsimile of first page of letter between p. 64–65; addressee unspecified)
Tschaikowsky-Gesellschaft Mitteilungen, Heft 10 (2003), p. 90 (first page only; including facsimile, p. 91) [1]
Tchaikovsky Research Bulletin No. 1 (February 2011), p. 60 (first page only, with English translation)
Чайковский. Новые материалы к творческой биографии (2013), p. 299 (first page only, with Russian translation)

Text and Translation

Only the first page of this letter is known.

French text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Mon adresse Parisienne est 14, Rue Richepanse
17 mars 1889

Chère et bonne Madame!

Vous devez me prendre pour un ingrat, pour un homme qui oublie trop vite ce qu'il promet, enfin pour un bien triste personnage. Non seulement je ne suis pas venu à Francfort mais depuis plus d'un mois je ne donne signe de vie! Mais voilà ce qui m'est arrivé depuis Berlin. Comme Paul a du vous l'écrire, de Berlin je suis allé à Leipzick et c'est de cette [...]

My address in Paris is: 14, Rue Richepanse [2]
17 March 1889

My dear and good lady!

You must take me to be an ungrateful person, a man who forgets too quickly what he has promised—in short, a quite sorry figure. Not only have I not come to Frankfurt, but for over a month I have not given any sign of life! However, this is what happened to me after Berlin [3]. As Paul must have written to you, from Berlin I went to Leipzig [4], and it is from this [...]

Notes and References

  1. In their re-publication of the first page of this letter in Tschaikowsky-Gesellschaft Mitteilungen, Heft 10 (2003), Thomas Kohlhase and Wolfgang Glaab made some speculations as to who its unnamed addressee might be. Since the letter is addressed to a lady living in Frankfurt, they came to the conclusion that the most likely candidate was Mathilde Cossmann, the wife of the cellist Bernhard Cossmann (1822–1910), who had worked alongside Tchaikovsky at the Moscow Conservatory from 1866 to 1870, but who subsequently moved to Frankfurt where he taught at the newly-founded Hoch Conservatory. Knorr also taught at Frankfurt, so he could easily have borrowed this letter from his colleague's wife in order to make a facsimile of it for his 1900 biography of Tchaikovsky. That would explain why among the people Knorr thanks for their assistance in the preface to his book we find the name of Bernhard Cossmann. The recent discovery of Letter 3793b to Paul Cossmann on 13/25 February 1889 has confirmed beyond any doubt that this letter is indeed addressed to Paul's mother, Mathilde Cossmann.
  2. Tchaikovsky's address is written upside down on the first page of the letter.
  3. A few weeks earlier, on 14/26 February 1889 Tchaikovsky had conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert featuring the Serenade for String Orchestra and Francesca da Rimini. From an entry in Tchaikovsky's diary for that day we know that Paul Cossmann attended the concert: "The concert. Not so good. The hall was filled. Left with Cossmann". Quoted from The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1973), p. 261.
  4. Tchaikovsky arrived in Leipzig on 17 February/1 March 1889 for just two days, which he spent mainly in the company of Adolph Brodsky and his wife Anna. From there he travelled to Geneva before returning to Germany again in order to conduct his Symphony No. 5 in Hamburg on 3/15 March. After leaving Hamburg he stopped briefly in Hannover on his way to Paris. The remaining text was omitted from this letter's facsimile publication in Peter Jljitsch Tschaikowsky (1900), and has not been published elsewhere.