Letter 4915a

Tchaikovsky Research
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Date 13/25 April 1893
Addressed to William Mathews
Where written Klin
Language French
Autograph Location unknown
Publication Music [Chicago], vol. 6 (May 1894), p. 83 (facsimile and English translation)
Tchaikovsky Research Bulletin No. 1 (February 2011), p. 90 (with English translation)
Чайковский. Новые материалы к творческой биографии (2013), p. 314 (with English translation, p. 314, and Russian translation, p. 315)

Text and Translation

French text
English translation
By William Mathews
Kline, près Moscou
13/25 Avril 1893

Très respecté Monsieur

J'ai reçu l'invitation de venir assister au Congres musical de Chicago, que Vous avez eu l'extrême attention de m'envoyer. Je Vous remercie cordialement pour l'honneur que Vous avez bien voulu me faire, mais malheureusement mes affaires et ma santé m'empèchent d'entreprendre ce trop lointain voyage et je dois renoncer au plaisir d'admirer les merveilles de Votre exposition. Soyez certain, Monsieur, que je le regrette infiniment.

Recevez l'assurance de ma profonde estime.

P. Tschaïkovsky

Klin, near Moscow
13/25 April 1893

Most respected Sir

I have received the invitation wishing me to take part in the Musical Congress at Chicago, which you have the extreme attention to send me [1]. I thank you cordially for the honour intended, but unfortunately my affairs and my health do not permit me to undertake so extended a journey, and I am obliged to renounce the pleasure of admiring the marvels of your exposition [2]. Be certain that I greatly regret my inability.

Receive the assurance of my profound esteem.

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. William Mathews's letter to Tchaikovsky from Chicago on 22 March 1893 [N.S.] has been published (in Russian translation) in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 94–95. In this letter, Mathews asked Tchaikovsky if he would like to take part in the "musical congress" that was to be held during the Chicago World Fair that summer, and, in particular, to give a lecture on the state of music in Russia or on any other subject that interested him. The lecture was to be between 20 and 30 minutes long, and could be delivered either in English or in Russian (in the latter case, Tchaikovsky was requested to send a copy of the text in advance so that it could be translated into English and printed for the benefit of the English-speaking participants of the congress). Mathews explained that the World Fair Committee lacked the funds to cover all his expenses, but that they could pay for his hotel accommodation in Chicago for the duration of the congress.
  2. On 24 October 1892 [N.S.], the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus was celebrated across the United States, and one of the main events organized in connection with these festivities was the World Fair (called the "Columbian Exposition") which was to be held in Chicago in the summer of 1893. On 4 January 1891 [N.S.], Frederick Grant Gleason (1848–1903), an American composer and music critic for The Chicago Tribune, had written to Tchaikovsky to inform him about the forthcoming Columbian Exposition in 1893 and asking him for his views on the latter. Gleason's letter has been published (in Russian translation) in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 88–89. It is not clear whether Tchaikovsky answered this letter or whether he met Gleason during his visit to America in April–May 1891. In May 1892, Tchaikovsky had already received an invitation to the Chicago World Fair, specifically to appear as a conductor there. However, the proposed terms proved to be unacceptable, and Tchaikovsky did not travel to Chicago. At the Columbian Exposition in the summer of 1893 a series of Russian concerts was conducted in Chicago by Vojtěch Hlaváč (Voitekh Glavach; 1849–1911). The first one, on 5 June 1893 [N.S.], opened with Tchaikovsky's festival overture The Year 1812. Subsequent concerts featured the Elegia from the Serenade for String Orchestra, the Italian Capriccio, the Slavonic March, the Finale from the Symphony No. 3, and other works. A choir conducted by Yevgeniya Eduardovna Lineva (1854–1919) performed the Chorus of Maidens from Yevgeny Onegin and a number of Tchaikovsky's sacred pieces. See the information provided in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 95, note 1.