Letter 3688

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 8/20 October 1888
Addressed to Anna Brodsky
Where written Frolovskoye
Language Russian
Autograph Location Manchester (England): Royal Northern College of Music, The Library
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XIV (1974), p. 556–557
Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 123–124

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
8 октября 1888
Моск[овская] губ[ерния]
Клин, с[ело] Фроловское

Многоуважаемая, дорогая
Анна Львовна!

Знаете ли, что я страшно начинаю тяготиться тем, что вот уже более восьми месяцев мы сделались чужды друг другу. Я писал Адольфу из Парижа, из Вены, из Тифлис, ин ни на одно из этих писем не было ни строчки ответа. Я забыл номер Вашего дома, и все эти три письма были адресованы в консерваторию. Решительно не понимаю, почему они в своё время до него не дошли. А между тем, вследствие этого порвалось общение между нами. Мне это очень досадно, ибо Адольфа я всегда очень любил, а Вас и Ольгу Львовну полюбил девять месяцев тому назад и изменять Вам решительно не намерен, как бы Вы ни старались. Конечно, я ни одной минуты не подозреваю, что Ваш муж серьёзно за что-нибудь на меня сердится, и заранее предвижу, что всё это окажется недоразумением. Как бы то ни было, но мне очень захотелось узнать, что вы все поделываете, где и как провели лето, здоровы ли Вы, с Вами ли Ольга Львовна, похудел или потолстел Адольф, — ну, словом, разные про вас подробности. Про себя же скажу Вам следующее. Весну провёл на Кавказе, а всё лето почти безвыездно сидел в деревне и работал. Плодами этих работ вышли симфония и симфоническая поэма. Теперь то и другое кончено, и скоро уж придётся покинуть своё деревенское уединение. 5-го ноября будет в Петербурге мой концерт, а вслед за тем я еду в Прагу на постановку моего «Евгения Онегина». Засим есть разные предположения, но, во всяком случае, я клянусь, что побываю в Лейпциге, ибо он более или менее всегда по дороге, а уж мне больно хочется видеть Вас. Знаете ли, что мне необычайно отрадно вспоминать все мои посещения Вас! Вы мне оказали громадную нравственную поддержку в такую минуту, когда я мог не снести охватившей меня бешеной тоски и постыдно удрать домой. А ведь это было бы очень нехорошо во всех отношениях.

Я нашёл случайно ваш точный прошлогодный адрес и адресую по нём. Авось дойдёт? Ради Бога, ответик!

Целую Ваши ручки.

П. Чайковский

8 October 1888
Moscow province
Klin, village of Frolovskoye

Dear, most respected
Anna Lvovna!

You know, I am beginning to feel terribly depressed by the fact that it is now over eight months that we have become like strangers to one another. I wrote to Adolph from Paris, Vienna, and Tiflis, but I didn't receive a single line in reply to any of these letters [1]. I simply cannot understand why they didn't reach him in due course. Meanwhile, as a result of this, all communication between us has been broken off. This is very vexing for me, because I have always loved Adolph very much, and I came to love you and Olga Lvovna [2] nine months ago, and I have no intention whatsoever of becoming unfaithful to you all, no matter how much you may try [3]. Of course, I do not for one instant suppose that your husband could be seriously angry with me for some reason, and I can already foresee that all this will turn out to be a misunderstanding. Be that as may be, still I would very much like to find out what you are all getting up to, where and how you spent the summer, whether you are in good health, whether Olga Lvovna is still with you, whether Adolph has put on or lost weight — well, in short, I just want to know various details about you. As for myself, I shall tell you the following. I spent the spring in the Caucasus, and during the summer I stayed at home in the country almost all the time and worked. The fruits of these labours are a symphony and a symphonic poem. Now both the one and the other are complete, and I shall quite soon have to give up my rural seclusion. On 5 November I have a concert in Petersburg, and after that I'm going to Prague for a production of my Yevgeny Onegin [4]. Thereafter I have various plans, but I swear that I shall visit Leipzig in any case, because it is always more or less on my intended route, and I really do want to see you very much. You know, it is uncommonly gratifying for me to recall all my visits to your house! You gave me huge moral support at a time when I might well not have been able to bear the frenetic anguish I'd been seized by and might well have run off shamefully and gone home. And that would have been very bad in all possible respects.

I happen to have found your exact address from last year, and that's where I am addressing this letter. Will it reach you? For God's sake, do give me a reply![5]

I kiss your hands.

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Of these three letters to Adolph Brodsky (the first two written during Tchaikovsky's concert tour of Western Europe, and the third shortly after his return to Russia), only the one sent from Vienna has survived: it is dated 15/27 March 1888 (letter 3526). After receiving the above letter Anna Brodsky replied to the composer (see note 5 below), and her husband also wrote to Tchaikovsky apologizing for not having answered his previous letters: "My laziness with regard to writing is to blame for everything. Moreover, the fact that you were then constantly on the move and I wasn't sure whether you would receive my letter greatly contributed to my laziness. I decided that I would write to you in Moscow once you had got back there, and, as usual, I kept meaning to write all this time but never got round to doing so". Brodsky's letter (undated, but evidently written in late October/early November 1888) has been published in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 125–126.
  2. Olga Lvovna Skadovskaya (married name: Picard; c. 1856–1940), younger sister of Adolph Brodsky's wife Anna. After completing her secondary education at a gymnasium in Kherson, she helped her sister Anna to teach peasant children at the school founded by the latter on their family's estate at Belozerka. She subsequently went with Anna to Paris, where they both enrolled at the Sorbonne, attended scientific lectures and worked at various laboratories. It was during the two sisters' stay in the French capital (1872–74) that Olga married her teacher, the chemist Gabriel Picard. They had a son who was christened Léon in honour of Olga's father, but in 1888 they divorced. Over the following years Olga was actively involved in revolutionary propaganda in Kherson province and often had to go into hiding. The tsarist secret police arrested her on several occasions and she was banished from her native district. Her brother Georgy Lvovich Skadovsky (1847–1919) managed to bail her out a number of times and get her released from prison. After the October Revolution in 1917 she lived in Odessa for a while, but in 1924 the Soviet authorities allowed her to emigrate to England so that she could join her sister Anna. She lived at the Brodskys' house in Bowdon, Cheshire, near Manchester (where her brother-in-law was principal of the Royal College of Music), until her death in 1940 — note based on information provided in Marina Stroganova's essay on the Skadovsky family in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 207.
  3. Tchaikovsky was very grateful for the warmth and hospitality which he had been shown by the Brodskys at their house in Leipzig when he arrived at the city on 19/31 December 1887 to open his first concert tour of Western Europe, and he spoke of Brodsky, his wife Anna, and her sister Olga in glowing terms in several of his letters and diary entries from that period, and also in the Autobiographical Account of a Tour Abroad (1888).
  4. On 5/17 November 1888 Tchaikovsky conducted a concert of his own works under the auspices of the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Society. It featured the premiere of the Symphony No. 5, as well as the Piano Concerto No. 2 (soloist Vasily Sapelnikov), Joan's aria from The Maid of Orleans (sung by Mariya Kamenskaya), and the premiere of Herman Laroche's Overture-Fantasia orchestrated by Tchaikovsky. Ten days later, the composer was in Prague, where, on 24 November/6 November 1888, he conducted the first performance of Yevgeny Onegin outside Russia.
  5. Anna complied with this request very soon and wrote to the composer: "Your letter has given us a lot of warmth, dear Pyotr Ilyich, thank you. I shall treasure this letter all my life. Ever since your departure [from Leipzig on 30 January/11 February 1888] we have not ceased to think of those hours which we spent with you, and we keep looking fondly at your portrait which adorns Adolph's writing-desk. [...] I hope that nothing will prevent you from keeping your promise to come and visit us in Leipzig: we will be awfully glad to see you". Anna's letter (undated, but evidently written in late October/early November 1888) has been published in Воспоминания о русском доме (2006), p. 124–125. Tchaikovsky kept his promise and visited the Brodskys on 18 February/2 March 1889, during his short stop-over in Leipzig on the way to Geneva, where he was due to conduct a concert of his own works seven days later.