Diaries (January 1889)

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Tchaikovsky's Diary No. 9 covers the period from 1/13 January to 22 June/4 July 1889.

The year 1889 started with Tchaikovsky at home in Frolovskoye, near Klin, where he was working on his ballet The Sleeping Beauty. After a short visit to Moscow in early January, he left Frolovskoye on 19/31 January to conduct his music in Germany, travelling via Saint Petersburg, Berlin, Hannover, and Cologne.

Text and Translation

The following diary entries were first published in Дневники П. И. Чайковского (1873-1891) (1923), p. 219–223, edited and with notes by the composer's brother Ippolit. They were also translated into English by Wladimir Lakond in The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1945), p. 253–258, and into German by Ernst Kuhn and Hans-Joachim Grimm in P. I. Tschaikowsky. Die Tagebücher (1992), p. 278–282.

The new English translation and detailed commentary published here for the first time was prepared by Brett Langston and Dmitry Raits".

For consistency with previous diaries, entries are given according to Russian [O.S.] dates, which were twelve days behind the Western calendar.

Tuesday 1/13 January 1889
Января 1/13. Встретил так, что и не вспомнил своевременно. Работал все утро - выход Авроры:

TH013a.jpg и т. д.

Не пил водки за обедом. Это очень хорошо!.. После чая работал. I am not satisfied with my domestic. I think he is not wery honest (900)!!!

January 1/13. Saw it in without even noticing the time [1]. Worked all morning – Aurora's entrance [2]:

TH013a.jpg etc.

Didn't drink vodka at dinner. That's a very good thing!... Worked after tea. I am not satisfied with my domestic. I think he is not very honest (900)!!! [3].

Wednesday 2/14 January 1889
Января 2/14. День прошёл как всегда, когда поглощён работой. Писал большое адажио 2-го действия, и давалось трудно!!! Даже вечером голова заболела. Гулял перед ужином по двору. Сидел с Феклушей у Гаврилы Алексеевича. Луна!!! Приехал сегодня неожиданно Петя — фельдшер, коего не видел 13 лет. Лёгок на помине, — вчера про него с Алёшей говорили. Погода стоит чудная January 2/14. The day passed as usual when I'm engrossed in work. Wrote the grand adagio in the 2nd act, and it came with difficulty!!! Still had a headache in the evening. Walked around the yard before supper. Sat with Feklusha [4] at Gavrila Alekseevich's [5]. The moon!!! Petya the medic, whom I haven't seen for 13 years, unexpectedly arrived today. Speak of the Devil — I was only talking about him with Alyosha yesterday. The weather remains wonderful.
Thursday 3/15 January 1889
Января 3/15. Работалось так себе. Впрочем, не слишком тужился, и потому голова не болела. Перед ужином получил известие о смерти Д. В. Разумовского. По утрам читаю Яна и смотрю на те вещи, про которые он говорит. Спасибо Юргенсону за подарок. Письмо от Вольфа, приглашение в Берлин. January 3/15. Work was so-so. Anyway, I didn't force myself too much, so no headache. Before supper, received news of the death of D.V. Razumovsky [6]. Reading Jahn in the morning and looking through the works he talks about. Thanks to Jurgenson for the gift [7]. Letter from Wolff [8], invitation to Berlin.
Friday 4/16 January 1889
Января 4/16. Экие чудные дни стоят! Несильный мороз, светло и начиная с 3 или 4 часов луна! Сердился утром на Ал[ексея] за камин. Работал, как всегда теперь, через силу. Кажется, я выдохся!!! Письма: от Юрг[енсона], Вольфа, Над[ежды] Ф[иларетовны] и т. д. После обеда гулял долго и был внизу на реке. Дивно! После чая работал, — но очень через пень в колоду. Не то!.. После ужина гулял по двору и саду. Вид от конца сзади на Клин и дом изумительны. Странно, что-то неладное в кишках. January 4/16. How wonderful these days are! A slight frost, bright, and the moon rising from 3 or 4 o'clock! Angry in the morning with Al[eksey] because of the fireplace. As usual now I had to force myself to work. It seems I'm written out!!! Letters: from Jurgenson, Wolff, Nadezhda Filaretovna, etc. After dinner a long stroll down to the river. Divine! Worked after tea – but very lackadaisically. That won't do! After supper strolled around the yard and the garden. The view from the far side of Klin and the house is astounding. Felt odd, something wrong with my bowels.
Saturday 5/17 January 1889
Января 5/17. Все та же удивительная, чудная, светлая зимняя погода. Работал сегодня вообще хорошо. Кончил 2[-е] действие. Проиграл его (длится полчаса). Письмо от Шпажинской, и только. Тяжело получать её письма. Особенно хорошо чувствовал себя днём, ибо водки не пил. Тщетно ждал появление луны в 4 часа. Она изволила опоздать!!! Объявил решение, что еду завтра в Москву. January 5/17. Still the same amazing, wonderful, bright winter weather. Worked generally well today. Finished the 2nd act. Played it through (it lasts half an hour). Just one letter, from Shpazhinskaya. Her letters are painful to receive. Felt especially well during the day, because of not drinking vodka. Waited in vain for the moon to appear at 4 o'clock. It deigned to be late!!! Announced my intention to go Moscow tomorrow.
Sunday 6/18 January 1889
Января 6/18. Два батюшки служили у меня, и оба завтракали. Тут же были Гаврило Алексеевич и его жена, Алексей и Феклуша. Гулял. Уехал в 7 часов в Москву. Моск[овская] Гост[иница]. Ужин. January 6/18. Two priests officiated here, and they both stayed for lunch. Also Gavrila Alekseevich and his wife, Aleksey and Feklusha. Walked. Left at 7 o'clock for Moscow. The Moscow Hotel. Supper.
Monday 7/19 January 1889
Января 7/19. Москва. У Юргенсона. Свидание с Клименкой после 17 лет разлуки. Заседание. Обед у Юргенсона с Клименко. Весело. Ералаш (!!!). Ужин. Дома [...]. January 7/19. Moscow. Jurgenson's. Meeting with Klimenko after 17 years of separation. Business. Dinner at Jurgenson's with Klimenko. Jolly. Eralash [9] (!!!). Supper. Home [...] [10]
Tuesday 8/20 January 1889
Января 8/20. Москва. Головная не то боль, не то остатки пьянства. В Усп[енском] Соб[оре]. Прогулка. Дома. Добровольский и Орлов. Завтрак (мой) у Лопашева с Юрг[енсоном], Клим[енко], Кашк[иным], Лар[ошем], Кат[ериной] Ив[ановной Ларош], Сашей Зил[оти]. В 7 1/2 домой. Обед. Уехал. В Клину Василий. Вьюга. Стучание. Сцена с Алексеем. January 8/20. Moscow. Either had a headache or a hangover. The Uspensky Cathedral. Stroll. Home. Dobrovolsky and Orlov [11]. Lunch (on me) at Lopashev's [12] with Jurgenson, Klimenko, Kashkin, Laroche, Katerina Ivanovna Laroche, Sasha Ziloti. Home at 7.30. Dinner. Left. Vasily [13] at Klin. Snowstorm. Knocking. A scene with Aleksey.
Wednesday 9/21 January 1889
Января 9/21. Фроловское. Весь день письма писал. Всего написал 17. Решился вечером просить Всевол[ожского] о гонораре. Какое-то жуткое чувство. January 9/21. Frolovskoye. Writing letters all day. 17 written in all. Decided in the evening to ask Vsevolozhsky about the money [14]. Felt rather horrible.
Thursday 10/22 January 1889
Января 10/22. Работа шла хорошо; написал весь антракт к сонной картине, и, кажется, ничего. После обеда с удовольствием прошёлся. Было не холодно. My domestic is very cold with me. Вечером играл увертюру Воеводы (отысканную по просьбе Юргенсона) и рассматривал партитуры балетов, когда-то данные мне Гербером. January 10/22. Work went well; wrote the whole entr'acte to the sleep scene, and it doesn't seem bad. Had an enjoyable stroll after dinner. It wasn't cold. My domestic is very cold with me [15]. In the evening played the overture to The Voyevoda (dug out at Jurgenson's request) and looked through ballet scores that Gerber [16] once gave me.
Friday 11/23 January 1889
Января 11/23. Особенно хорошо работалось сегодня, как в старину. Многое сделал. Кончил 2[-ю] карт[ину] 2[-го] действия. Опыт с Дурой (мы поехали с Алёшей на шоссе, оставив её на привязи, а Феклуша пустила её через 5 минут после нас). Читал Достоевского (Двойник). Шоколад. Подслушивание. January 11/23. Worked especially well today, like the old days. Much done. Finished the 2nd scene of the 2nd act. Training for Dura [17] (Alyosha and I went on the road, leaving her on a leash, but Feklusha released her 5 minutes after we left). Read Dostoevsky (The Double). Chocolate. Eavesdropping.
Saturday 12/24 January 1889
Января 12/24. Приезжали Юргенсон с Клименкой. Я ожидал массу гостей, но, кроме их, никого не было. Обед, разговоры, игра, прогулка, опять игра. О Толстом. Спал плохо. January 12/24. Jurgenson arrived with Klimenko. I expected a mass of guests, but there was no-one else besides them. Dinner, conversation, played, stroll, played again. Went on about Tolstoy. Slept badly.
Sunday 13/25 January 1889
Января 13/25. Встал очень рано, т.е. успел чай пить с отъезжающими. Начал „В чем моя вера" Толстого. Гуляя, встретил детей, шедших из школы. Пришла депеша от Всеволжского о 3000, также телеграмма от Панчулидзевой. January 13/25. Rose very early, i.e. was able to drink tea with the departing guests. Started "What I Believe" by Tolstoy. Out strolling, met the children returning from school. Message from Vsevolozhsky about the 3000, also a telegram from Panchulidzeva [18].
Monday 14/26 January 1889
Января 14/26. Работал все так же усердно. Является надежда кончить 4 первых картины до отъезда. January 14/26. Worked just as diligently. Now hoping to finish the first 4 scenes before I leave.
Tuesday 15/27 January 1889
Января 15/27. Приезжали Зилоти, Танеев (раньше других - играли с ним Моцарта) и Клименко. Спор о Толстом. 5-я симфония в 4 руки. January 15/27. Visited by Ziloti, Taneyev (before the others – played Mozart with him), and Klimenko. Disagreement over Tolstoy. 5th Symphony for 4 hands [19].
Wednesday 16/28 January 1889
Января 16/28. Снегу навалило порядком. И вчера, и сегодня трудно ходить. Дети из школы в лесу. Работал до утомления. Страсть к шоколаду. January 16/28. The snow has piled up. Hard to walk both yesterday and today. School children in the woods. Worked to exhaustion. Craving for chocolate.
Thursday 17/29 January 1889
Января 17/29. Через силу работал — уж очень устал. Утопал в снегу во время прогулки. Читаю „В чем моя вера" по утрам и изумляюсь мудрости, соединённой с детской наивностью. Письмо от Панчулидзевой. Комическое разрешение моих ожиданий. January 17/29. Worked hard throughout — so very tired. Sank into the snow while out walking. Read "What I believe" in the morning and was astonished by the combination of wisdom and childish naiveté. Letter from Panchulidzeva. Comical outcome to my expectations.
Friday 18/30 January 1889
Января 18/30. Такого божественного чудного зимнего дня ещё, кажется, никогда не бывало. Красота поистине изумительная. Кончил работу, т. е. первые 4 картины. Письмо от П[ётра] И[вановича] со счётом, повергшим меня в недоумение. Расстройство. После ужина une querelle avec der Diener. He is not delicat. January 18/30. It seems there's never been such a divinely wonderful winter day. Its beauty is truly astounding. Finished work, i.e. the first 4 scenes. Letter from Pyotr Ivanovich's with an account which threw me into confusion. Upset. After supper a quarrel with the servant. He is not delicate [20].
Saturday 19/31 January 1889
Января 19/31. Приготовление к отъезду. Выезд вечером в Петербург. Грустно было уезжать. С Алекс[еем] в холодн[ых] отнох[шениях]. January 19/31. Preparations for leaving. Set off in the evening for Petersburg. Sorry to leave. Cool relations with Aleksey.
Sunday 20 January/1 February 1889
Января 20. Петербург. Приезд. Цет. Вася. Завтрак дома с ним вдвоём. У Бютнера. В Дирекции. Сидел на кв[артире] у больного Погожева. Обед у Angèle и Гитри. Евгений Онегин с Фигнером и Медеей. Сидел в оркестре. January 20. Petersburg. Arrival. Zet [21]. Vasya [22]. We had lunch together at home. Bittner's [23]. The Directorate. Sat with a poorly Pogozhev at his apartment. Dinner with Angèle and Guitry [24]. Yevgeny Onegin with Figner and Medea. Sat in the orchestra.
Monday 21 January/2 February 1889
Января 21. Репетиция балета в Б[ольшом] Театре. Все время сидел с О. Э. Направник. Обед у нас (Боб, Аня, Цет, Вася). В Мих[аиловском] театре (Marion Del[orme] в ложе с Аней и Мод[естом]) и в Дв[орянском] собр[ании]. Русский концерт. Стенька Разин Глазунова. Чай дома. January 21. Ballet rehearsal at the Bolshoi Theatre. Sat the whole time with O. E. Nápravník. Dinner at our's (Bob, Anya, Zet, Vasya. At the Mikhailovsky Theatre (Marion Delorme) [25] in a box with Anya and Modest), and Russian concert at the Assembly of the Nobility. Glazunov's Stenka Razin. Tea at home.
Tuesday 22 January/3 February 1889
Января 22. У Пантелеймона. У В. В. Бутаковой. В Дирекции у Всевол[ожского]. Переговоры с ним и Петипа о балете. Обед у Фигнера. У Палкина с Васей. January 22. Panteleymon's [26]. V. V. Butakova's. At the Directorate with Vsevolozhsky. Discussions with him and Petipa about the ballet. Dinner with Figner. At Palkin's [27] with Vasya.
Wednesday 23 January/4 February 1889
Января 23. У Направника в 11 час[ов]. Я давал завтрак у Палкина Корсакову, Глазунову и т. д. Разные визиты. В 5 часов у Дир[екйии] театр, играл 2-ое действие балета. Обед у Кондратьева. Чай у Боба (сто раз божественного). January 23. Nápravník's at 11 o'clock. I arranged lunch at Palkin's for Korsakov, Glazunov etc. Various visits. At 5 o'clock played through the 2nd act of the ballet at the theatre directorate. Dinner at Kondratyev's. Tea with Bob (a hundredfold divine).
Thursday 24 January/5 February 1889
Января 24. Выезд за границу. Завтрак на вокз[але] с Аней, О. Эд. Напр[авннк] и Володей, Цетом, Модей. В отделении (большом) один. Соседи-испанцы. Обычная скука и пьянство. Шоколад. January 24. Set off for abroad. Lunch at the station with Anya, O. E. Nápravník and Volodya, Zet, Modya. Alone in a (large) compartment. Spanish neighbours. The usual ennui and drinking. Chocolate.
Friday 25 January/6 February 1889
Января 25. Переехали границу. В отд[елении] спального вагона. Читал Доде Бессмертный. January 25. Crossed the border. In a separate sleeping compartment. Read "L'Immortel" by Daudet [28].
Saturday 26 January/7 February 1889
Января 26. Приезд в Берлин. У Вольфа. Завтрак у Дресселя solo. У Клиндворта, у Бока, у Блоха. Дома. Нездоровилось (зуб болел, ибо холодно). Обед в новом ресторанчике. Шлялся. Дома. January 26. Arrival in Berlin. Wolff's. Lunch at Dressel's solo. Klindworth's, Bock's, Bloch's [29]. Home. Felt unwell (toothache, because of the cold). Dinner at a new restaurant. Gadded about. Home.
Sunday 27 January/8 February 1889
Января 27. У Вольфа. У Арто. Завтрак у Дресселя. Болен. Дома. Едличка. Вольф. С ним в Sing-Academie. Бах. Ужин у Вольфа-брата. Беседа о русск[ой] литерат[уре] с старичком. January 27. Wolff's. Artôt's. Lunch at Dressel's. Ill. Home. Jedliczka. Wolff. Went with him to the Sing-Academie. Bach. Supper at Wolff's brother's. Conversation with the old man about Russian literature.
Monday 28 January/9 February 1889
Января 28. Побывав у Вольфа, сидел дома и переправлял голоса Сюиты. Нездоровилось. Однако завтрак и обед у Дресселя. January 28. After visiting Wolff, sat at home and corrected the parts of the Suite. Felt unwell. Had lunch and dinner at Dressel's anyway.
Tuesday 29 January/10 February 1889
Января 29. Отъезд из Фридрихштрассе. Довольно много народу. Несимпатичный немец против меня (жена его провожала). Чтение. Обед в Ганновере. Приезд в 10 1/2 в Кельн. Hotel du Nord. Симпатичная комнатка. Ужин. Симпатичное лицо. January 29. Departure from Friedrichstrasse. Quite a lot of people. An unsympathetic German opposite me (his wife took him away). Reading. Dinner in Hannover. Arrival in Cologne at 10.30. Hotel du Nord. Nice room. Supper. Friendly face.
Wednesday 30 January/11 February 1889
Января 30. Неизвестность о месте и часе репетиции. Тоска и уныние. Слишком рано в Гюрценихе. Честный комиссионер с красными глазами. Наконец репетиция. Вюльнер. Превосходный оркестр. Table d'hote (нас всего трое). Вечером опять репетиция. Мне ужин в обществе музыкантов. Радость свидания с Галиром. January 30. Uncertainty about the time and place of the rehearsal. Fed up and miserable. Too early at the Gürzenich. Honest agent with lovely eyes. Finally the rehearsal. Wüllner [30]. First-class orchestra. Table d'hôte (three of us in all). Rehearsal again in the evening. Supper for me at the Musician's Society. The joy of meeting Halíř [31].
Thursday 31 January/12 February 1889
Января 31. Репетиция. Шло отлично. Обед у Вюльнера. Тоска. Галир расстроен. Дома. Пьянство. Спал. Концерт. Смешная комната артистов. Галир. Певец Мейер. Очень успешно и большой успех. Ужин у Нейтцеля (барон, Директор театра). Милая жена Нейтцеля. January 31. Rehearsal. Went splendidly. Dinner at Wüllner's. Fed up. Halíř was upset. Home. Drunkenness. Slept. Concert. Funny artist's room. Halíř. The singer Meyer. Passed off very well and a great success. Supper at Neitzel's (baron, Director of the theatre). Neitzel's dear wife.

Notes and References

  1. Tchaikovsky is referring here to "seeing in" the new year.
  2. The Scene (No. 7) from Act I of the ballet The Sleeping Beauty.
  3. Tchaikovsky probably wrote this phrase in English so that it could not be understood if his servant Aleksey Sofronov ("Alyosha") read the composer's diary.
  4. Fekla Grigoryevna Sofronova, wife of Aleksey Sofronov.
  5. Manager of the Frolovskoye estate.
  6. Dmitry Vasilyevich Razumovsky was professor of church music history at the Moscow Conservatory. He had also officiated at Tchaikovsky's marriage to Antonina Milyukova in 1877.
  7. Otto Jahn (1813-1869)'s three-volume biography of Mozart (Leipzig, 1856-59). At the end of 1888, his publisher Pyotr Jurgenson had presented Tchaikovsky with the Breitkopf & Härtel edition of Mozart's Complete Works.
  8. Hermann Wolff (1845–1902), Tchaikovsky's concert agent in Berlin. His letter to Tchaikovsky does not appear to have survived.
  9. Eralash is a Russian card game similar to whist.
  10. The next words from this day's entry are crossed out and illegible.
  11. N. F. Dobrovolsky, director of the Synodal School in Moscow, and Vasily Orlov, director of the city's Synodal Choir.
  12. Lopashev's restaurant in Moscow.
  13. Tchaikovsky's cook at Frolovskoye.
  14. Tchaikovsky had recently been awarded an annual pension of 3000 rubles by Tsar Alexander III.
  15. This phrase was written in English (see also Note 3).
  16. Yuly Gerber (1831–1883), Russian violinist, violist, composer and conductor of ballet music.
  17. Dura (whose name literally translates as 'fool') was the house dog at Maydanovo, whom Tchaikovsky and Aleksey Sofronov had been attempting to train.
  18. This telegram from Anastasiya Mikhaylovna Panchulidzeva in Penza is preserved in the Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve at Klin (a4, No. 3225)
  19. Sergey Taneyev's new arrangement of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 for piano duet.
  20. Tchaikovsky now writes his comments about Aleksey in French, German and English. The word "delicate" here means 'inconsiderate'.
  21. Julius Zet (in Russia: Yuly Tset) was the composer's representative in his negotiations with Western European concert agents.
  22. The pianist Vasily Sapelnikov, who was preparing for a concert in the Russian capital.
  23. Bittner's musical publishing firm was founded in Saint Petersburg in 1850. They also acted as the Russian agents for Daniel Rahter in Hamburg, who had recently become Tchaikovsky's publisher in Germany.
  24. The French actor Lucien Guitry and his actress wife Angèle.
  25. The play by Victor Hugo, first performed in 1831.
  26. A restaurant in Saint Petersburg.
  27. Palkin's restaurant.
  28. The novel L'Immortel, by the French writer Alphonse Daudet (1840–1897), had been published the previous year.
  29. Georg Bloch (1847–1910), composer and professor at the Berlin Conservatory, founder of the Opernvereins in the German capital.
  30. Franz Wüllner (1832–1902), German pianist, conductor and composer, and manager of the Gürzenich concerts in Cologne.
  31. Karel Halíř (1859-1909), who had given the Czech premiere of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in 1888, under the composer's baton.