Letter 3170

Date early/mid February 1887
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. 58–59
Советская музыка (1970), No. 9, p. 64–65
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 36–37

Text and Translation

French text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
Kline, Maïdanowo

Mon cher ami!

Je viens de recevoir Votre bonne lettre. Il m'est tout à fait impossible de venir pour le 23. J'ai accepté l'invitation de conduire l'orchestre à un grand concert qui aura lieu à Petersbourg et qui sera composé uniquement de mes œuvres. Ce concert aura lieu vers le 16 Mars et comme il exigera beaucoup de répetitions je n'aurai jamais le temps de revenir de Paris. Et puis il y a encore d'autres raisons qui m'empêchent de me rendre à Paris maintenant. Mais si vous pouviez remettre l'audition pour plus tard, – je viendrai. Je puis partir le 17 (Mars), ou le 18 et me trouver à Paris le 21 ou le 22. Tachez donc, mon cher ami, de remettre la chose à plus tard. Ce serait pour moi un grand plaisir de pouvoir assister à cette audition. Répondez moi vite.

J'ai conduit l'orchestre aux trois premières représentations du «Caprice d'Oksane» et à mon très grand étonnement on trouve que je ne me suis pas mal acquitté de ma tâche. Me voilà donc devenu chef d'orchestre et V[ou]s en voyez déjà le premier résultat. A Petersbourg on veut absolument que je conduise moi-même l'orchestre au concert projeté, et j'ai formellement promis ; je ne puis me dédire maintenant. Et du reste il peut en résulter des suites d'une grande importance.

Ainsi, je suis à V[ou]s dès la fin de Mars.

Pourquoi, cher ami, ne me répondez V[ou]s pas à ma lettre où je V[ou]s ai prié de me faire faire plusieurs douzaines de mes photographies de chez Reutlinger???

Faites cela de grâce. Mille choses à la bonne Madame Mackar!!!

P. Tschaïkovsky

My dear friend!

I have just received your kind letter. It is utterly impossible for me to come for the 23rd [1]. I have accepted an invitation to conduct the orchestra at a big concert which will take place in Petersburg, and whose programme will be drawn exclusively from my own works. This concert is due to take place around the 16th of March [2], and since it will require lots of rehearsals, I would never be able to travel to Paris and make it back in time. Moreover, there are other reasons which prevent me from travelling to Paris right now [3]. However, if you could put off the recital to a later date, I shall definitely come. I could leave on the 17th (of March), or the 18th, and arrive in Paris by the 21st or the 22nd. So please try, my dear friend, to defer the event to a later date. It would be a great pleasure for me to be able to attend this recital [4]. Send me a quick reply.

I conducted the orchestra at the first three performances of "Le caprice d'Oksane", and, to my great astonishment, I am reckoned to have acquitted myself of my task quite well. So here I am, turned into an orchestra conductor, and you can already see the first result of that. In Petersburg they want me at all costs to conduct the orchestra myself at the planned concert, and I have formally promised to do so. I cannot go back on my word now. And, besides, this concert could have some very important consequences [5].

Thus, I am yours from the end of March onwards [6].

Why, dear friend, do you not reply to the letter in which I asked you to have several dozens of prints made of the photographs which I had taken at Reutlinger's??? [7]

Please do that. A thousand regards to good Madame Mackar!!! [8]

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. The letter from Mackar to which Tchaikovsky is replying here has not been published in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970) and may well not have survived. However, in an earlier letter from Paris on 11/23 November 1886 Mackar had mentioned to Tchaikovsky that he wanted to organize a further concert of his works that winter. It was to take place in the Salle Érard and was to feature the pianist Louis Diémer, the violinist Martin Pierre Marsick (1848–1924), the cellist Jules Delsart (1844–1900), and the singer Juliette Conneau — see Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 153–154. In the letter to which Tchaikovsky is replying above, Mackar had evidently given the specific date of the recital. It was to take place on 11/23 February 1887, and all the musicians mentioned earlier took part, except for Delsart, who was replaced by Anatoly Brandukov. They were, moreover, joined by the violist Joseph-Louis-Marie Mas and the violinist Alfred Brun (b. 1864) — see the information provided by Vladimir Fédorov in Čajkovskij et la France. À propos de quelques letteres de Čajkovskij à Félix Mackar (1968), p. 59, note 1.
  2. This concert of the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Society conducted by Tchaikovsky would take place in the Hall of the Assembly of the Nobility on 5/17 March 1887. It featured the first performance in the imperial capital of the Suite No. 1, Kuma's arioso from Act I of The Enchantress (sung by Aleksandra Panayeva-Kartsova), the Dance of the Tumblers from that opera, the Andante and Valse from the Serenade for String Orchestra, the fantasia Francesca da Rimini, various solo piano pieces (played by Dmitry Klimov), three romances (sung by Panayeva-Kartsova), and the festival overture The Year 1812. The concert was received very well both by the public and the critics (though César Cui, as usual, expressed some reservations).
  3. Tchaikovsky was in a rush to complete the vocal-piano reduction of The Enchantress so that the rehearsals for his opera at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre could go ahead, and he also needed to orchestrate Acts II, III, and IV so that he could submit the full score to the Theatres' Directorate by Lent, as he had promised.
  4. The recital went ahead on 11/23 February 1887, so Tchaikovsky was unable to attend. As Mackar reported in a letter to Tchaikovsky the following day, it was a great success. The Salle Érard was unable to accommodate all those who came, and so more than 200 people had to listen to the concert standing — see Mackar's letter in Чайковский и зарубежные музыканты (1970), p. 154. On the programme were the Sérénade mélancolique (in Tchaikovsky's own arrangement for violin and piano; played by Marsick, with Brandukov accompanying on the piano); the Nocturne, No. 4 of the Six Pieces, Op. 19, for piano, arranged for solo cello and piano (played by Brandukov, with Marsick accompanying); the Piano Trio (played by Diémer, Brandukov, and Marsick); Nos. 1, 2, 5, and 6 from the Six Romances, Op. 6 (sung by Juliette Conneau); the Polonaise from Yevgeny Onegin in Liszt's transcription for piano; Chant sans paroles, No. 3 from Souvenir de Hapsal, Op. 2; Polka de salon, No. 2 of the Three Pieces, Op. 9; Mazurka, No. 5 of the Twelve Pieces, Op. 40; and Romance, No. 5 of the Six Pieces, Op. 51 (all played by Diémer).
  5. As Tchaikovsky confessed in Letter 3175 to Nadezhda von Meck on 9/21 February 1887, his success in conducting Cherevichki had made him start dreaming of organizing a concert tour of his works abroad.
  6. In 1887 Tchaikovsky visited Paris only very briefly, from 2/14 to 4/16 August. On the last day he was able to spend some time with Mackar and his wife.
  7. In Letter 2980 of 22 June/4 July 1886 Tchaikovsky had asked Mackar to order several prints of the portrait photographs he had had taken at Reutlinger's atelier in Paris two weeks earlier. It seems that Mackar had not complied with that request.
  8. Mackar's wife, Valérie. In 1888, Tchaikovsky would dedicate to her one of the prints made by the Hamburg photographer E. Bieber on 6/18 January 1888. He wrote on it the following inscription: "Madame Valérie Mackar souvenir affectueux" and sketched three bars from the Andante cantabile of his String Quartet No. 1 — see Čajkovskij et la France. À propos de quelques letteres de Čajkovskij à Félix Mackar (1968), p. 94. The portrait in question appears as Photograph No. 60 in our Catalogue of Photographs.