Letter 43

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 10/22 December 1851 [1]
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. 63–64)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 39
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 44–45

Text and Translation

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

French text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
San doute chers Papa et Maman que la nouvelle que vous ne viendrez pas ici nous a beaucoup chagriné! et si ma chère Maman vous ne viendrez pas ici au moi de Décembre nous serons encore doublement tristes.

Mais j'ose encore avoir l'éspérance que vous viendrez ici ma chére Maman, au moi de Janvier, et ça ne sera pas denouveau vous viendrez l'été.

Je vous félicite de tout mon coeur et avec les fétes de Noël.

Comme pas longtemps j'avais l'ésperance de passer cette grande féte avec vous, aprésent je l'ai perdu entiérement, et je me consolerai en me rappelant comme je les passai, a Votkynsk, à Alapaeff, et à Pétersbourg il y a déja 3 ans.

Je baise tout le monde, Zina, Sacha, Pola, Tola, Moda, Lydie, ma chere cousine Anastasie, Настася Петровна et enfin tout le monde et leur souhaite tous les biens du monde. Je vous félicite encore une foix mes Anges et je prie Dieu de vou donner tous les bien imaginable.

Je prie votre bénédiction et je baise mille fois vos mains. Votre fils,

Pierre Tschaikovsky

There can be no question, dear Papa and Mama, that the news that you are not coming here has upset us very much! And if you, my dear Mama, do not come here in December, we shall be doubly sad [2].

But I am still so bold as to have the hope that you will be coming here, my dear Mama, in January, and if that again doesn't work out, then you will come in the summer.

I congratulate you with all my heart upon the Christmas season.

Whereas not long ago I had the hope of spending this great feast with you, at present I have lost it altogether, and I shall console myself by recalling how I spent Christmas in Votkinsk, Alapayevsk and Petersburg three years ago [3].

I kiss everyone: Zina, Sasha, Polya, Tolya, Modya, Lidiya [4], my dear cousin Anastasiya [5], Nastasya Petrovna [6] — in short, everyone, and wish them all the blessings on earth. I congratulate you once again, my Angels, and I pray to God that He may give you all the good things one can imagine.

I ask for your blessing and kiss your hands a thousand times. Your son,

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Dated on the basis of a postscript added to this letter by Nikolay Tchaikovsky, which bears the date "10 December 1851" — note by Vladimir Zhdanov in П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 661.
  2. During his visit to Saint Petersburg in September 1851, Ilya Tchaikovsky seems to have explained to Pyotr and his brother Nikolay, who were both attending boarding-schools in the Imperial capital, that the whole family would be moving from Alapayevsk to Saint Petersburg the following spring or summer, and that prior to that their mother would visit them around Christmas. Aleksandra did not in fact come to Saint Petersburg during Christmas, but in early/mid-May 1852 she and her husband would finally move from Alapayevsk to the Imperial capital with the rest of the family.
  3. Pyotr is referring to Christmas in 1848, when he had been in Saint Petersburg together with his parents and his whole family. In May 1849 they had all then moved to Alapayevsk in the Urals.
  4. The composer's cousin Lidiya Vladimirovna Tchaikovskaya (married name Olkhovskaya; 1836-1892) was the daughter of Ilya Tchaikovsky's elder brother, Vladimir. She lost her mother when she was quite little, in 1842, and was effectively adopted by Ilya and his wife Aleksandra.
  5. Anastasiya Vasilyevna Popova (1807–1894), the daughter of Ilya Tchaikovsky's older sister Yevdokiya Popova. In other letters she is referred to affectionately as 'Sestritsa' or 'little sister'.
  6. Anastasiya Petrovna Petrova (1824–1893) had joined the Tchaikovsky family in Alapayevsk on 24 November/6 December 1849 as a governess, specifically with the task of preparing Pyotr for the School of Jurisprudence in Saint Petersburg. After spending some three years with the Tchaikovskys she worked as a governess in various other families, but returned to her first employer in 1859, when she took charge of the twins, Anatoly and Modest. Pyotr writes her name in Russian in this letter probably because she didn't know French and he wanted her nevertheless to be able to see that he had sent greetings for her.