Letter 4369a

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 19 April/1 May 1891
Addressed to Ivy Ross
Where written New York
Language French
Autograph Location unknown [1]
Publication Morning Journal, 3 May 1891 [N.S.] (English translation only)
Notes Original text of the article Wagner and His Music (TH 319) [2]

Text and Translation

This incomplete text is based on the partial facsimile published in Stargardt's 1988 auction catalogue [3], which contains differences in formatting and content from the version of the article published in the Morning Journal (1891).

French text
English translation
By Brett Langston
New York
1 Mai [18]91

Vous me demandez, Mademoiselle, mon opinion sur Wagner. Je vais Vous la dire carrément et franchement. Mais je dois Vous prévenir que je distingue deux cotés dans cette question : 1) Wagner et le rang qu'il tient parmi les compositeurs du XIX siècle et 2) le Wagnerisme. Vous allez voir que autant j'admire le compositeur, autant je simpathise peu à ce qui constitue le culte des théories Wagnériennes.

Comme compositeur, Wagner est certainement la personnalité musicale la plus marquante de la seconde moitié du siècle et son influence sur la musique moderne est immense. [...]

New York
1 May 1893

You ask me, Mademoiselle, my opinion on Wagner. I am going to tell you squarely and frankly. But I must warn you that I recognise two sides to this question: 1) Wagner and the rank he hold amongst 19th-century composers, and 2) Wagnerism. You will see that as much as I admire the composer, I equally have little sympathy for what constitutes the cult of Wagnerian theories.

As a composer, Wagner is certainly the most remarkable musical personality of the second half of this century, and his influence on modern music is immense. [...]

Notes and References

  1. The autograph was auctioned in September 1976 by Charles Hamilton, New York.
  2. In this letter Tchaikovsky addresses his correspondent directly ("You ask me, Mademoiselle, my opinion on Wagner. I am going to tell you squarely and frankly. But I must warn you that ...", etc.) For its publication in the Morning Journal (1891) it was rephrased by the editors as if the composer had been addressing its readership ("I am asked to tell the readers of the New York Morning Journal my opinion of Wagner. I will do so, squarely and frankly. But I must warn them that ..." etc.).
  3. See Charles Hamilton, Catalogue for Sale on 16 September 1976 (New York, 1976), Lot 326 (including facsimile of first page). See also Čajkovskijana aus alten Auktionskatalogen (2015), p. 117-120 (including facsimile of first page, p. 118).