Letter 3958

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Date 14/26 October 1889
Addressed to Anton Chekhov
Where written Moscow
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow: Russian State Library
Publication Музыка в жизни и творчестве Чехова (1953), p. 27–28
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XV-А (1976), p. 198

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
14 октября [18]89 г[ода]

Дорогой Антон Павлович!

Посылаю при сём свою фотографию и убедительно прошу вручить посланному Вашу!

Достаточно ли я выразил Вам мою благодарность за посвящение? Мне кажется, что нет, а потому ещё скажу Вам, что я глубоко тронут вниманием Вашим!

Крепко жму Вашу руку.

П. Чайковский

14 октября [18]89 г[ода].

14 October 1889

I am herewith sending you my photograph and ask you emphatically to hand over one of yourself to the messenger![1]

Did I sufficiently express my gratitude to you for the dedication?[2] It seems to me that I didn't, and I would therefore also like to tell you that I am profoundly touched by your kindness![3]

I shake your hand warmly.

P. Tchaikovsky

14 October 1889.

Notes and References

  1. The photograph which Tchaikovsky sent to Chekhov together with this letter—both were delivered by a special messenger that same day—bears the following inscription: "To A. P. Chekhov from an ardent admirer. P. Tchaikovsky. 14 Oct. 89". See Музыка в жизни и творчестве Чехова (1953), p. 28–29. The photograph in question was one of several prints made by the Hamburg photographer E. Bieber on 6/18 January 1888 and is listed No. 60 in our Catalogue of Photographs.
  2. On 12/24 October 1889 Chekhov had written to Tchaikovsky that a new collection of his short stories, Gloomy People (Хмурые люди), was due to be published later that month and asked for permission to dedicate this book to him: "This dedication would, firstly, give me great pleasure, and, secondly, it would at least to some extent satisfy that profound feeling of respect which causes me to remember you every day. The idea of dedicating a little book to you lodged itself firmly in my mind already on that day when I had lunch with you at Modest Ilyich's [in Saint Petersburg, in December 1888] and I found out from you that you had read my stories. If, together with your permission, you also send me your photograph, I shall have received more than I deserve and will be satisfied for all time". Instead of replying in writing Tchaikovsky went to Chekhov's flat two days later, on 14/26 October, and thanked him personally. During their conversation they also discussed the possibility of working together on an opera, with Chekhov providing the libretto. (A few months later Chekhov would suggest turning one of the stories that make up Lermontov's famous novel A Hero of Our Time into a libretto, but nothing came of the projected opera Béla). A few hours after his visit Tchaikovsky sat down to write the above letter and, together with the photograph which he had evidently forgotten to bring with him earlier that day, he sent it to Chekhov via a messenger. For Chekhov's earlier letter, see: А. П. Чехов. Полное собрание сочинений и писем в 30 тт. Письма, том 3 (Moscow, 1976), p. 259.
  3. After receiving Tchaikovsky's letter and photograph that same evening Chekhov sat down at once to write a reply: "I am very, very touched, dear Pyotr Ilyich, and I thank you infinitely. I am sending you a photograph and books, and I would even send you the sun if it belonged to me". The photograph which he sent Tchaikovsky can be seen on this website's entry for Chekhov and it bears the following inscription: "To Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as a keepsake of his cordially devoted and grateful admirer Chekhov". The books which he sent to Tchaikovsky were a copy of his collection of short stories In the Twilight (В сумерках; 3rd ed., Saint Petersburg, 1889), inscribed: "To Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky from the author, who respects him profoundly. A. Chekhov", and a copy of the collection Stories (Рассказы; 2nd ed., Saint Petersburg, 1889), inscribed: "To Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, from his future librettist. A. Chekhov. 89 14/XI [sic.: should be X]". For Chekhov's letter to Tchaikovsky of 14/26 October 1889, see: А. П. Чехов. Полное собрание сочинений и писем в 30 тт. Письма, том 3 (Moscow, 1976), p. 262.