Letter 4607

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 29 January/10 February 1892
Addressed to Henrik Hennings
Where written Maydanovo
Language French and German
Autograph Location Hamburg (Germany): Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Carl von Ossietzky
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XVI-Б (1979), p. 29–30
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Text and Translation

French and German text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
29 Janvier/10 Février 1892
Klin, neben Moskau

Cher Monsieur!

Votre bonne lettre du 16 Janvier vient seulement de parvenir à son adresse. Elle est arriveé à Hambourg, quand j'avais déja quitté cette ville; ensuite elle m'a suivi pendant longtemps et finalement je la reçois chez moi, à peine rentré de mon excursion à l'étranger.

Cher Monsieur! je suis très touché de Votre aimable attention et de toutes les expressions flatteuses que renferme Votre lettre. Je serai très content de pouvoir aller à Kopenhagen et de paraître devant le public de Votre ville, seulement cela ne sera possible que dans la saison prochaine. J'ai maintenant un grand travail à terminer et ne pourrai quitter mon pays que dans quelques mois. Veuillez donc m'avoir en vue pour la saison de l'année 1892-1893 depuis le mois d'Octobre jusqu'au mois de Mai. Certainement je n'exagére rien quand je Vous dis très sincèrement que ce sera pour moi un grand plaisir et en meme temps un grand honneur que de recevoir de Kopenhagen une invitation pour un ou deux concerts.

Merci encore une fois, cher Monsieur, et recevez l'expression de mes meilleurs sentiments.

Bien à Vous,

P. Tschaïkovsky

Si Vous connaissez Swendsen veuillez lui transmettre l'expression de ma très vive admiration.

P.S. Bitte um Entschuldigung, dass ich französisch schreibe. Ich schreibe so abscheulich schlecht deutsch!!!

29 January/10 February 1892
Klin, near Moscow

Dear Sir!

Your kind letter of 16 January has only now reached its destination. It arrived in Hamburg when I had already left that city. Thereafter it followed me for a long time, and it is finally here at home that I received it, having barely got back from my trip abroad [1].

Dear Sir! I am very touched by your kind attention and by all the flattering expressions contained in your letter. I would be very happy to be able to come to Copenhagen and to appear before the public of your city, only that will not be possible until the next season. I currently have to finish a big job and will not be able to leave my country until a few months' time [2]. Would you therefore consider me for the 1892-1893 season at some point between October and May? Truly, it is no exaggeration when I tell you most sincerely that it will be a great pleasure for me, and at the same time a great honour, to receive an invitation from Copenhagen for one or two concerts [3].

Once again thank you, dear Sir, and accept my best regards.

Yours ever,

P. Tchaikovsky

If you are acquainted with Svendsen, would you convey to him the assurance of my most keen admiration.

P.S. I beg your pardon for writing in French. I write so atrociously badly in German!!!

Notes and References

  1. Tchaikovsky had left Russia on 26 December 1891/7 January 1892, travelling first to Warsaw, where he stayed for a week. During his stay in Warsaw he heard Mascagni's opera Cavalleria rusticana for the first time and was greatly impressed by it, as well as conducting a concert of his own works on 2/14 January 1892. From Warsaw he travelled to Hamburg, stopping briefly in Berlin. Tchaikovsky arrived in Hamburg on 5/17 January and the following day he conducted the general rehearsal of his opera Yevgeny Onegin at the Stadt-Theater, whose manager, Bernhard Pollini, was counting on the composer himself conducting the first performance of Onegin in Germany. During the rehearsal, however, Tchaikovsky had trouble following the recitatives in German and he refused to conduct the actual performance. Fortunately, the theatre's musical director, Gustav Mahler, had been rehearsing the opera with the singers and orchestra over the preceding weeks, and it was he who conducted the German premiere of Yevgeny Onegin on 7/19 January 1892 in the composer's presence. The following day, Tchaikovsky left Hamburg and travelled on to Paris. He arrived in the French capital on 9/21 January and stayed there for ten days before returning to Russia. For more information on Tchaikovsky's stay in Hamburg in January 1892 and the production of Yevgeny Onegin there, see Tschaikowsky in Hamburg. Eine Dokumentation (2006), p. 106-127.
  2. Tchaikovsky had just begun the orchestration of his ballet The Nutcracker, which had to be ready for its scheduled premiere at the Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre in December that year.
  3. Ever since his first concert tour of Western Europe in January-March 1888 Tchaikovsky had also been intending to come to Copenhagen at some point to conduct a concert of his works (Grieg had passed on to him an invitation from Johan Svendsen, who was then the driving force in Copenhagen's music life). Unfortunately, this plan, which was also to have been extended to a wider concert tour of Scandinavia, did not work out, although in October 1893, just a few weeks before his death, Tchaikovsky apparently corresponded with Svendsen, once again regarding the possibility of his coming to the Danish capital that winter to give a concert.