Letter 2965

Date 5/17 June 1886
Addressed to Édouard Colonne
Where written Paris
Language French
Autograph Location Paris (France): Bibliothèque-Musée de l'Opéra
Publication Revue de musicologie, tome 64 (1968), no. 1, p. 84–85 ("18 June")
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIII (1971), p. 360–361.
Notes Original incorrectly dated "18 June"

Text and Translation

French text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Paris. 18 Juin 1886


M[onsieu]r Mackar m'apprend que Vous me faites l'honneur de m'inviter à dîner chez Vous demain Vendredi. Malheureseument, depuis bien longtemps j'avais promis de dîner ce jour-la dans la maison d'une compatriote et il m'est tout-à-fait impossible de manquer à cette invitation. Cependant il me serait pénible de quitter Paris sans avoir eu l'occasion de Vous exprimer de vive voix ma très vive reconnaissance pour ce que Vous avez fait pour moi. Madame Bohomoletz me disait hier que Vous viendriez peut-être chez elle Samedi soir. Si telle est votre intention, – j'aurai donc l'occasion de Vous y rencontrer à mon très grand contentement. J'espère donc, cher maitre Vous voir après demain chez cette dame, – sinon je tâcherai de Vous trouvez chez Vous Dimanche ou Lundi matin, et si je n'ai pas la chance de Vous trouver chez Vous, c'est à l'hiver prochain que forcément je devrai remettre le plaisir de pouvoir Vous serrer la main.

En attendant, laissez moi Vous dire par ecrit que je Vous remercie de tout mon cœur de ne pas m'oublier et que je sens vivement combien je suis Votre obligé.

Recevez l'assurance de ma très grande considération et des meilleurs sentiments de Votre bien dévoué serviteur

P. Tschaïkovsky

Paris. 18 June 1886


Monsieur Mackar informs me that you do me the honour of inviting me to dine at your house tomorrow on Friday. Unfortunately, I had promised some time ago that on that day I would have dinner at the house of a lady compatriot, and it is quite impossible for me to turn down that invitation now [1]. However, it would be sad for me to have to leave Paris without having had the opportunity to convey to you in person my very vivid gratitude for all that you have done for me. Madame Bohomoletz told me yesterday that you might perhaps be coming to her place on Saturday evening. If such is indeed your intention, then, to my great satisfaction, I shall have the opportunity of meeting you there. I hope therefore, dear maestro, to see you tomorrow at this lady's house [2]. If not, I shall try to call on you on Sunday or Monday morning, but if I am unlucky enough not to find you in, I shall perforce have to defer until next winter the pleasure of being able to shake your hand [3].

In the meantime, allow me to tell you in writing that I thank you with all my heart for not having forgotten me, and that I feel most keenly how obliged I am to you [4].

Please be assured of the very great respect and best regards of your truly devoted servant,

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Towards the end of his month-long stay in Paris that summer Tchaikovsky had begun to grow tired of all the formal social gatherings to which he was invited, and he seems to have devised the above invitation from a "lady compatriot" as a pretext to avoid having to dine at Colonne's house, especially since he was not yet very well acquainted with the conductor. From Tchaikovsky's diary we know that on Friday, 6/18 June, he dined instead in the company of some friends, including Prince Aleksey Golitsyn (1832–1901), a Russian diplomat who moved in the homosexual demi-monde of Paris and other European capitals. The relevant part of the diary entry reads: "At six o'clock, rode to Golitsyn while it rained. Two nice young men, unusually dark. Café de Paris on the Avenue de l'Opéra. Brandukov. We waited long for Guitry, but it turned out that he was in a private room upstairs. Angèle [Lucien Guitry's mistress]. At first, the dinner was not lively; afterwards it was better". Quoted from The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1973), p. 85.
  2. Adèle Bohomoletz was a wealthy music patroness with her own salon in Paris. She was the sister of Marie Clerc—the wife of Fauré's good friend Camille Clerc—and was herself married to a Russian. On Saturday, 7/19 June 1888, she hosted a supper and musical soirée in Tchaikovsky's honour during which the String Quartet No. 1 was performed by the Marsick Quartet (who also joined Fauré in a performance of his own Piano Quartet). It was on that occasion that Tchaikovsky first made the acquaintance of Fauré whom he found to be "charming", as he noted in his diary. Colonne, however, does not seem to have been present at this soirée.
  3. Colonne was at home on Sunday, 8/20 June 1888, when Tchaikovsky called on him in the morning, and their meeting is recorded in the composer's diary: "Colonne was extremely pleasing and kind". Quoted from The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1973), p. 86. This seems to have been their last meeting before Tchaikovsky's departure for Russia on 12/24 June.
  4. Colonne had featured a few works by Tchaikovsky at his Châtelet concerts in the past, and the composer felt indebted to him for this. Thus, on 25 February/8 March 1879 Colonne had conducted The Tempest (for which Tchaikovsky publicly thanked him in Letter 1122), and on 13/25 January 1880 he conducted the first performance of the Symphony No. 4 in France (a concert that was funded by Nadezhda von Meck). Moreover, Colonne had offered Nikolay Rubinstein the services of his orchestra during the famous "Russian Concerts" at the Palais Trocadéro in the summer and early autumn of 1878 that had done so much to propagate Tchaikovsky's music in Paris. Colonne returned to the conductor's rostrum when Nikolay Rubinstein gave the first public performance of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in Paris on 28 August/9 September 1878, as well as during a second performance of that work on 15/27 September.