Letter 2276

Date 27 April/9 May 1883
Addressed to Anna Merkling
Where written Paris
Language Russian
Autograph Location unknown
Publication П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 217
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XII (1970), p. 140–141
Notes Manuscript copy in Klin (Russia): Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve (signature omitted)

Text and Translation

Based on a handwritten copy in the Klin House-Museum Archive, which may contain differences in formatting and content from Tchaikovsky's original letter.

Russian text
(original)
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Париж
27-го апреля 1883 г[ода]

Аня, голубушка! Ты самая невероятная клеветница и каломниатерша, какая есть на свете

Ни разу в жизни я ни единого саше в Париже не покупал и разве в горячечном бреду мог обещать тебе это. А вот что. Я ведь думал, что еду в Италию; не обещал ли я тебе sachet из флорентинской poudre d'iris, вот это весьма возможно, а ты взяла да и напутала! Во всяком случае, привезу и sachet и статуэтку. Готовь сюпор и платки. Говоря, что я тебе не писал ничего о кантате, ты, коварная, опять-таки клевещешь. Именно писал, и необходимостью с быстротой римской свечки написать эту кантату объяснял, почему не могу на твои милые и столь всегда интересные письма отвечать иначе, как коротенькими писульками. Но, Боже мой, как меня смешат те, которые говорят, что я еду на исполнение своей кантаты. Я еду просто в Россию, в которой давно бы уже был, если бы не Таня, которую всё ещё нельзя здесь оставить одну. Стремлюсь всеми силами души куда-нибудь в русскую глушь, а от коронации и кантаты буду удирать во все лопатки, ибо менее всего на свете желаю теперь шума, суеты и т. д.

Надеюсь, что недели через полторы можно будет выехать, но, впрочем, далеко ещё не уверен в этом. Поеду на Петербург и тебя увижу. Я очень, очень устал от Парижа. Просто невероятно мне самому поверить, сколько я наработал в это время, целую оперу инструментовал, большую кантату написал да ещё торжественный марш для города Москвы. Если прибавить к этому постоянные заботы и тревоги по поводу Тани, то в результате получается несколько месяцев, проведённых очень не по-парижси. И действительно, смешно подумать, что, живя здесь почти четыре месяца, я ни разу, например, не успел побывать в Лувре или в Luxembourg, ибо буквально все часы дня посвящал работе или посещениям Тани, и только вечером изредка в театр ходил. Да и теперь ещё не всё кончено: кое-что поработать ещё осталось. До свидания, голубушка, недели через две.

Твой,

Paris
27th April 1883

Anya, darling! You are the most incredible slanderer and calumniator in the whole wide world.

I have never in my life bought a single sachet in Paris, and it is only in some state of feverish delirium that I could have promised you this. What may have happened is this. You see, I had thought I would be going to Italy, so I may well have promised you a sachet of Florentine iris powder — now that is quite possible, but there you went off and confused the two! In any case, I shall bring you both a sachet and a statuette. Have the stand and some cloths ready [1]. When you say that I didn't write to you anything about the cantata, you are again slandering me perfidiously. I most certainly did write about it, referring to how I needed to compose this cantata with the speed of a Roman candle [2] in order to explain why I couldn't reply to your sweet and always so interesting letters other than by brief little scribbles. But, my Lord, how those people who say that I am coming for the performance of my cantata make me laugh![3] I am simply going to Russia, where I would have been a long time ago if it weren't for Tanya, whom I still cannot leave here on her own [4]. With all the fibres of my soul I am now yearning to go to Russia, to some place in the depths of the country — I shall run away from the coronation and from my cantata as fast as my legs can carry me, because right now the least thing I want in the world is noise, commotion, etc [5].

I hope that within a week and a half or so I shall be able to leave, though I must say that I am by no means certain of this. I shall come to Petersburg and see you there. Paris has left me very, very tired. I cannot even believe it myself how much work I have done in all this time: I have orchestrated a whole opera and written the big cantata, as well as a festive march for the city of Moscow. If one adds to this my constant troubles and concern over Tanya, then the upshot is several months which I have spent here in a not very Parisian fashion. Indeed, it makes me laugh to think that, despite having been living here for almost four months, I have not once found the time to visit the Louvre, for example, or the [Jardin du] Luxembourg — this is because I have literally devoted all my hours to work or to visits to Tanya, and only in the evenings did I every now and then go to the theatre. In fact, I haven't quite finished everything yet: there's still a bit of work left to do. Until we meet in two weeks' time, golubushka.

Yours,

Notes and References

  1. {{note|1|See Letter 2046 to Anna Merkling, 18/30 June 1882, in which Tchaikovsky had apologized for failing to keep his promise and bring her a replica of a classical statue from Italy. He was particularly sorry because his cousin had already bought a support for the statuette.
  2. A type of firework which bursts into spectacularly coloured sparks and balls of fire.
  3. At very short notice Tchaikovsky had been commissioned to write two works for the festivities which were to be held in Moscow to celebrate the coronation of Alexander III: the coronation cantata Moscow (completed in Paris on 24 March/5 April 1883) and the Coronation March (completed on 23 March/4 April). Tchaikovsky was in Saint Petersburg when these two works were performed for the first time in Moscow.
  4. On the previous day Tchaikovsky's niece Tatyana Davydova ("Tanya") had given birth in Paris to her illegitimate child, a boy who was christened Georges-Léon. Tchaikovsky, who, apart from Modest, was so far the only member of her family to be aware of this, had assisted Tatyana during her confinement and found a wet-nurse for the boy, as well as a local French family who could look after him for the time being. Even to Anna Merkling Tchaikovsky could not confide the full extent of his niece's predicament, and in letters to his cousin from Paris he had just told her that Tatyana was being treated for her morphine addiction. See also Пётр Чайковский. Биография, том II (2009), p. 200-201.
  5. The festivities for the coronation of Alexander III in Moscow took place in May 1883.