Letter 123a

Tchaikovsky Research
Date November 1868 (?)
Addressed to Mily Balakirev
Where written Moscow
Language Russian
Autograph Location unknown [1]
Publication Tchaikovsky Research Bulletin No. 1 (February 2011), p. 5 (extracts only, in English translation)
Notes Written on the back of a letter from Nikolay Rubinstein to Mily Balakirev.

Text and Translation

This incomplete text is based on the excerpts (in German translation) published in Stargardt's 1979 auction catalogue [2], which may contain differences in formatting and content from Tchaikovsky's original letter.

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
[...] I thank you for remembering me and for your intention of performing my piece [3]. If it is at all possible, dear fellow, would you be so good as to include in the concert notes the short explanation which you'll find on the title-page of the 4-handed piano arrangement? I intend to write you a long letter shortly, but for the time being I remain yours devotedly,
P. Tchaikovsky

[...] Give my regards to all your lot, and especially to Korsinka. (I daresay he has been very busy with my Maid of Pskov?)[4]

Notes and References

  1. Autograph auctioned in 1979 at Marburg by J. A. Stargardt.
  2. J. A. Stargardt, Autographen aus allen Gebieten (Marburg, 1979), item no. 965. The excerpt in German is as follows: "Ich danke für Ihr Gedenken und für die Absicht, mein Stück aufzuführen. Bemühen Sie sich, Täubchen, wenn es irgend geht, auf dem Programm die kleine Erklärung zu bringen, die sich im Titel des Klavierauszuges zu vier Händen befindet. Ich habe vor, Ihnen in Kürze einen langen Brief zu schreiben, aber unterdessen bleibe ich Ihr ergebener P. Tschaikowsky [...] Grüßen Sie alle die Ihrigen und besonders Korsinka. (Er wird sich wohl viel mit meiner Pskowitjanka beschäftigt haben)."
  3. Tchaikovsky is referring to the Dances of the Chambermaids from his opera The Voyevoda. Ultimately, however, it was not Balakirev, but Anton Rubinstein who conducted the dances at a Russian Musical Society concert in Saint Petersburg on 25 January/6 February 1869, just five days before the opera's successful premiere at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre.
  4. It was probably during the spring of 1868 that Tchaikovsky seems to have passed on to Rimsky-Korsakov a libretto by Vsevolod Krestovsky for an opera on the subject of The Maid of Pskov (based on Lev Mey's popular historical drama), which is why he jokingly referred to it as "his" opera. However, Rimsky-Korsakov eventually decided to write his own libretto, and only finished work on the opera in 1872.