Letter 4683

Date 5/17 May 1892
Addressed to Pyotr Jurgenson
Where written Klin
Language Russian
Autograph Location Klin (Russia): Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve (a3, No. 2805)
Publication П. И. Чайковский. Переписка с П. И. Юргенсоном, том 2 (1952), p. 244 (abridged)
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том XVI-Б (1979), p. 88–89 (abridged)
Tchaikovsky in America. The composer's visit in 1891 (1986), p. 196–197 (English translation)

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Brett Langston
5 мая [18]92
г[ород] Клин

Душа моя! Пишу на ночь, хочется спать, и потому отвечу кратко, по пунктам:

1) Водку (чертовски дорого стоил мне этот своего рода виталин) пришли товарным поездом.

2) Партитуру сюиты выслать мне необходимо; нельзя её печатать без моего просмотра.

3) Листок из «Воеводы» ожидаю и прошу извинить за рассеянность.

4) Юферов свою оперу мне не присылал, подписчиком не был (странный вопрос: все равно как бы ты спросил, люблю ли я покупать коровье говно и есть его?), но был приглашён в Дирекцию в Петербурге месяца 2 тому назад, когда Юферов играл свою оперу, причём наговорил этому нахалу много неприятного. Рекламу не читал.

5) Крауфорду отвечал, что благодарю за честь, но не понимаю, зачем меня зовут: если для удовольствия быть на выставке, то уклоняюсь, ибо ненавижу всякие выставки и сопряжённое с ними многолюдство и суету, если же для дирижирования, то не могу удовлетвориться платой за расходы, тем более что выражение это очень эластично и предъявлять Выставке счёт, превышающий действительные расходы, я не могу, уехать же с пустым карманом тоже очень не намерен, ибо время и труд свой ценю высоко. Вследствие сего прошу гонорара 10000 долларов за 4-недельное пребывание в Чикаго, причём берусь дирижировать русскими концертами. Как угодно.

П. Чайковский

5 May 1892
Town of Klin

My dear chap! I'm writing at night and want to sleep, and so I shall answer your points briefly [1]:

1) The vodka (which has been a damned expensive vitalin) is coming by goods train [2].

2) I need you to send me the full score of the suite [3]; it can't be printed without my seeing it.

3) You can expect the pages from "The Voyevoda" and I apologise for my absent-mindedness [4].

4) Yuferov didn't send me his opera [5], I wasn't a subscriber (a peculiar question: you might as well have asked me whether I'd like to buy cow shit [6] and eat it), but I was invited to the Directorate 2 months ago to hear Yuferov play through his opera, when he duly rattled off this offensive nonsense. I haven't read the advertisements.

5) I replied to Crawford [7] that I was grateful for the honour, but did not understand why my name had been put forward: if it were for the pleasure of attending the exhibition, then I must politely decline, because I detest all such exhibitions, and their associated crowds and bustle; and if it were for the purpose of conducting, then I cannot be satisfied merely with payment of expenses, especially since the term is very vague, and I could not present the Exhibition with a bill which exceeded my actual costs, and I certainly should not intend to leave with empty pockets, since I value my time and labour highly. In view of this I'm asking for a fee of 10,000 dollars for a 4-week visit to Chicago, in return for which I undertook to conduct the Russian concerts. It's up to him.

P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Tchaikovsky is replying to Pyotr Jurgenson's letter of 4/16 May 1892.
  2. Two dozen bottles of "the most excellent vodka", sent to Tchaikovsky by Bernhard Pollini, had been held up by the Russian customs office until all duty had been paid (see Letter 4641 to Pyotr Jurgenson, 9/21 March 1892).
  3. The Suite from the ballet The Nutcracker.
  4. Jurgenson was publishing the overture to Tchaikovsky's first opera The Voyevoda, but the composer had forgotten to return some handwritten pages containing amendments.
  5. Tchaikovsky had heard Sergey Yuferov play through his opera Myrrh (Мирра) at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg on 8/20 March 1892. Yuferov also published it through private subscription.
  6. This word is censored in all previous Soviet publications of this letter.
  7. Crawford was the American consul in Saint Petersburg, who had passed on an invitation to Tchaikovsky to attend the "World's Columbian Exposition" to be held in Chicago between May and October 1893 (see also Letter 4682 to Theodore Thomas, 5/17 May 1893). Tchaikovsky's terms were not accepted, but among the composers who did attend were Antonín Dvořák and Scott Joplin.