Letter 49

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 16/28 March 1852
Addressed to Aleksandra Tchaikovskaya and Ilya Tchaikovsky
Where written Saint Petersburg
Language Russian
Autograph Location Saint Petersburg (Russia): National Library of Russia (ф. 834, ед. хр. 33, л. 75–76)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Письма к родным (1940), p. 44–45
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том V (1959), p. 51

Text and Translation

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

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
16 марта 1852 года

Милые и прекрасные родители!

Прежде всего поздравляю вас с Праздниками. Последний раз вы проводите их в Алапаеве, потому что через два месяца вы будете здесь.

Вчера мои прекрасные я читал письмо в котором вы пишите чтоб я очень старался выдержать экзамен; вы говорите 10 ваканций, но вы верно не знаете, что 120 кандидатов значит кандидатов в 12 раз более. Как же могу я поступить в Училище, если мне 11 лет; а другим 15 лет которые уже три года сидят в 1 Отделении и мучутся, чтобы поступить в VII класс Училища. И потому милые родители много есть сомнений что я непоступлю в училище этот год и вернее что я непоступлю, но останусь ещё на год в 1 Отд[елении] Приг[отовительного] класса, чего мне очень, очень, очень не хочется. Нечего делать! это редко случается чтобы воспитанник который бы с первого года мог поступить. Может быть что я выдержу экзамен, мои прекрасные, и это наверно будет: но по конкуренции или по недостатку [лет] я не поступлю потому что я один из самых молодых но 15 летние будут приняты, потому что если они непоступят то каррьера их будет очень незавидна. И потому не огорчайтесь мои Ангелы если я не поступлю, зато уже будущий год без всяких сомнений. Из этого милые Ангелы не думайте что я не хочу стараться, потому что я до сих пор очень стараюсь: но с сегодняшнего дня я буду в трое больше стараться, потому что знаю, что это будет для вас величайшая радость, если я поступлю. Я буду просить M[onsieur] Thibaux, чтобы он вам написал письмо обо мне. На этой недели мы говели. Вчера я приобщался.

Целую всех моих добрых сестёр и братьев! Прошу вашего благословения. Ваш сын,

П. Чайковский

Saint Petersburg
16 March 1852

Dear and wonderful parents!

First of all I congratulate you on the [Easter] feast-days. It is the last time you are spending them in Alapayevsk, because in two months' time you will be here.

Yesterday, my wonderful ones, I read the letter in which you write that I must try very hard to pass the exams. You say there are 10 places, but you probably don't know that there are 120 candidates, which means there are twelve times more candidates [than places]. How can I possibly get into the School given that I am 11 years old and there are others aged 15 who have been stuck in the first section for three years now, and who are falling over themselves to get into the School's 7th form?[1] And that is why, dear parents, there are many doubts as to my entering the School this year, and it is more likely that I won't get in and will instead have to stay on in the first section of the preparatory class for another year—something which I very, very, very much don't want to do. It can't be helped! It happens very rarely that a pupil is able to join [the School] straight after his first year [in the first section]. Perhaps I will pass the exams, my wonderful ones, and indeed that will certainly happen: but, due to the competition or my insufficient age, I won't be admitted, because I am one of the youngest; the 15-year-olds, however, will be admitted, because if they don't get in this time their careers will turn out very poorly [2]. And so do not be upset, my Angels, if I don't get in; next year, though, I will, without any doubt. Do not conclude from this, dear Angels, that I don't want to make an effort, because so far I have in fact been trying very hard. However, from today on I shall try thrice as hard, because I know that it will be the greatest joy for you if I am admitted [3]. I shall ask Mr Thibeaux [4] to write you a letter about me. We fasted this week. Yesterday I received communion.

I kiss all my kind sisters and brothers! I ask for your blessing. Your son,

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Tchaikovsky had joined the preparatory class of the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in September 1850. Pupils who made sufficient progress in their studies moved up into the "first section" of the form and from there they could take the entrance exams into the school proper. If they passed these they were admitted onto the so-called "junior course", forms seven to four, where they covered a general secondary curriculum. In their final years at the school, that is in the "senior course" (forms three to one), they studied mainly special juridical subjects. For more information on the School of Jurisprudence and the years which Tchaikovsky spent there, see Tchaikovsky. The quest for the inner man (1993), chapters 2-3, and Пётр Чайковский. Биография, том I (2009), chapters 2-3.
  2. The School of Jurisprudence had come to be regarded as a very effective springboard into the higher ranks of the civil service.
  3. Tchaikovsky did in fact successfully pass the entrance exams held in May 1852, obtaining 84 out of a possible 96 marks in eight subjects (divinity: 10; German: 10; Latin: 11; Geography: 10; History: 9; Russian language: 12; Arithmetic: 10; French language: 11; with 12 being the highest possible mark in each case), which put him among the ten best candidates and enabled him to join the schools 7th form in September. See Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 1 (1997), p. 71.
  4. Théodore Thibeaux-Brignolle (in Russian spelling, Фёдор Тибо-Бриньоль; d. 1880) was a teacher at the School of Jurisprudence and inspector of its preparatory class.