|Date||9/21 March 1889|
|Addressed to||Josef Sittard|
|Autograph Location||Tübingen (Germany): Private collection|
|Publication|| (1979), p. 77|
(1981), p. 250–251
(2006), p. 98-99, p. 264-265 (facsimile)
Text and Translation
By Luis Sundkvist
21 März '89
Ihre Kritik über meine Simphonie, die beiden Artikel über Berlioz und IhreZeilen habe ich erhalten. Danke Ihnen herzlich für die Kritik und nicht nur für das, was gedruckt ist, aber auch für das, was ich zwischen [den] Zeilen lese und fühle, d. h. und Sympathie für meine musicalische Thätigkeit. Ich möchte noch vieles darüber sagen, aber wirklich kann [ich] es deutsch nicht. Kann ich Ihnen in solch einer französisch schreiben? In dieser Sprache bin ich nicht so dumm wie in Ihriger.
Ich bin diese ganze Zeit unwohl und verbleibe schon einige Tage in meinem Zimmer.
Noch einmal danke Ihnen herzlich!
21 March 1889
I have received your review of my symphony , the two articles on Berlioz and your friendly lines . I thank you cordially for the review, and not just for what is printed in it, but also for what I can read and feel between the lines, that is, friendliness and sympathy for my musical activity. I would like to say a lot more about this, but, truly, I cannot do so in German. May I write to you in French regarding this matter? In that language I am not as stupid as in yours.
I have been feeling unwell all this time, and for several days now I have been keeping to my room .
Once again I thank you sincerely!
Until we meet!
Notes and References
- In his review of the concert in Hamburg on 3/15 March 1889 at which Tchaikovsky conducted the first performance in Germany of his Symphony No. 5, Sittard had spoken very positively of that work: "Even if the invention is not always original, even if the composer sometimes (as, for example, in the development section of the Andante cantabile) comes close to the style of lyrical opera, all four movements nonetheless contain so much that is beautiful, interesting, and distinctive, that we may certainly call the E minor symphony one of the most significant symphonic works of modern times. This applies also to the thematic development, as well as to the brilliant, albeit often too dense, instrumentation. Some of the motifs as such may perhaps not be able to lay claim to outstanding musical interest, yet Tchaikovsky knows how to shape them meaningfully and to lead them to a culmination which is as powerful as it is effective. No less deserving of praise is his sense for formal beauty, for the harmonic symmetry in which the individual sections of the movements are related to one another". Sittard's review, which appeared in the 16 March 1889 [N.S.] issue of the Hamburgischer Correspondent, is quoted in full in (2006), p. 91–94.
- Tchaikovsky had left Hamburg on the day after his concert, travelling first to Hanover, where he stayed for a few days before heading for Paris. He arrived in the French capital on 8/20 March 1889, and it seems that Sittard had sent him a copy of his review to Paris.
- Tchaikovsky was suffering from a dental abscess. See the diary entries for 7/19 and 8/20 March 1889 translated by Wladimir Lakond in (1973), p. 265–266.