Letter 2758

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 31 August/12 September 1885
Addressed to Félix Mackar
Where written Maydanovo
Language French
Autograph Location Paris (France): Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département de la Musique
Publication Revue de musicologie, tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 42
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIII (1971), p. 134–135.

Text and Translation

French text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Maïdanowo, près Kline, province de Moscou
31 Août/12 Septembre 1885


M[onsieu]r P. I. Jurgenson m'a remis les quelques partitions que V[ou]s avez bien voulu m'envoyer afin que j'exprime mon opinion sur ces œuvres de jeunes maîtres français. Ce sera pour moi un vrai plaisir de m'adonner à l'étude de ces compositions, mais j'espère, Monsieur, que V[ou]s aurez la bonté de m'excuser de ce que je ne puis le faire tout de suite. Je suis absorbé par un grand travail et tant que je ne l'aurai complètement terminé, – je ne saurai prêter à Vos belles éditions ni le temps ni l'attention qu'elles méritent. Dès que je serai délivré de la tâche que ma nouvelle composition m'impose, je m'appliquerai à l'examen minutieux de ce que V[ou]s m'avez envoyé et je V[ou]s en ferai savoir le résultat.

Maintenant, Monsieur, permettez moi de V[ou]s dire que je suis on ne peut plus content de ce que j'ai en Vous à Paris un soutien, un ami de ma musique, un propagateur bienveillant et énergique de mes œuvres. Je me félicite et me réjouis sincèrement à l'idée de la bonne chance qui met le sort de ma musique en France dans Vos mains. Je souhaite, Monsieur, que V[ou]s ne V[ou]s repentissiez jamais d'avoir eu le courage d'acquérir des droits sur les œuvres d'un compositeur peu répandu dans Votre pays et j'ose espérer que peut être le jour viendra quand V[ou]s serez content de ce que V[ou]s avez fait. Si ma bonne étoile me conduit à Paris, ce sera pour moi un doux devoir de me présenter chez V[ou]s, et en attendant, veuillez, Monsieur, agréer l'expression de mes sentiments les plus distingués.

P. Tschaïkovsky

Maydanovo, near Klin, Moscow Province
31 August/12 September 1885


Mr P. I. Jurgenson has forwarded to me the scores which you were so kind as to wish to send to me so that I might express my opinion on these works by young French masters [2]. It will be a true pleasure for me to devote myself to the study of these compositions, but I hope, Monsieur, that you will be so kind as to excuse me for not being able to do so at once. I am now engrossed in a big job, and I would not be able to give your handsome editions the time or attention they deserve until I have completely finished that [3]. As soon as I have acquitted myself of the task which my new composition imposes upon me, I shall apply myself to a painstaking examination of what you have sent me and will let you know what the outcome of that is [4].

Now, Monsieur, permit me to tell you that I am as happy as can be at having in your person a support in Paris, a friend of my music, a well-meaning and energetic propagator of my works. I congratulate myself and rejoice sincerely when I think of the good fortune which has put into your hands the fate of my music in France. I wish, Monsieur, that you may never regret having had the courage to acquire the rights to the works of a composer who is but little known in your country, and I venture to hope that perhaps the day will come when you will be glad over what you have done. If my lucky star guides me to Paris, it will be a sweet duty for me to call on you [5], and until then, Monsieur, would you please accept this assurance of my finest sentiments.

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. This is Tchaikovsky's first letter to Félix Mackar, who a few weeks earlier, in August 1885, had written to Jurgenson in Moscow offering to buy for 20,000 francs the right to publish and distribute in France and Belgium all of Tchaikovsky's already published works. The offer was accepted, leading to a correspondence between Tchaikovsky and his new French publisher, which — as Vladimir Fédorov (1901–1979), who was responsible for the first publication of almost all of Tchaikovsky's extant letters to Mackar, has noted — soon lost its formal character and became very friendly and cordial. 24 letters from Mackar to Tchaikovsky, the earliest dating from 2/14 September 1885 and the latest from 28 August/9 September 1893, have been published in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 146–164 (in Russian translation only).
  2. As we learn from Letter 2819 to Mackar of 22 November/4 December 1885, the scores which Tchaikovsky had received were of compositions by Émile Bernard (1843–1902) and Charles-Édouard Lefebvre (1843–1917).
  3. Tchaikovsky was then orchestrating his Manfred symphony, which he would complete on 22 September/4 October 1885.
  4. See Letter 2819 to Mackar.
  5. Tchaikovsky made good his promise and during his next visit to Paris, in the summer of 1886, he called on Mackar at his music-shop. However, his diary entry for the day of that first visit, on 21 May/2 June 1886, shows that when he set out from his hotel in the morning he did not consider it a "sweet duty" at all: "Decided to go to Mackar. What suffering I went through and how excited I was — it is impossible to describe. Ten times I approached the place and each time went away — even a large glass of absinth did not help. Finally I walked in. He was expecting me. I imagined him to be otherwise; less tall. His gaze is amazingly similar to Bessel's. We had a talk (while there, someone came to buy my works) and I left. It goes without saying that it was as though a load were taken off my shoulders and I felt easier" (quoted from The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1973), p. 78). Apart from his general dislike of having to meet new people in formal settings, this trepidation on Tchaikovsky's part before meeting Mackar may perhaps be explained by the fact that, for all his genuine modesty, he still considered it to be beneath his dignity as an artist to involve himself in the promotion of his works abroad — something that only seven years earlier, in his letters to Nadezhda von Meck, he had dismissed outright (see, for example, Letter 794 of 19/31 March 1878).