Letter 528

Tchaikovsky Research
Date 25 December 1876/6 January 1877
Addressed to Sergey Taneyev
Where written Moscow
Language Russian
Autograph Location Moscow: Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (ф. 880)
Publication Жизнь Петра Ильича Чайковского, том 1 (1900), p. 516–517 (abridged)
Письма П. И. Чайковского и С. И. Танеева (1874-1893) [1916], p. 11–12
П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 14–15
П. И. Чайковский. Полное собрание сочинений, том VI (1961), p. 102

Text and Translation

Russian text
English translation
By Luis Sundkvist
25 декабря 1876

Милый Серёжа!

Вчера, быв в консерватории на ёлке у Карла Карловича, получил Ваше милое письмо.

Сейчас я написал письмо к Colonn'у, прося его дать мне знать, может ли он удружить мне своим оркестром. Если он только согласится и ответит мне (я адресовал письмо прямо в Châtelet) утвердительно, то нет сомнения, что концерт состоится. Тысяча рублей не Бог весть какая сумма, и я её наверное достану. Я изумлён дешевизной оркестра и залы и весьма доволен, что S[ain]t-Saëns поощряет меня дать концерт. Когда я получу благоприятный ответ от Colonn'а, то немедленно приму меры для осуществления моего замысла и прежде всего попрошу корреспондента Юргенсона Dufour'а взять на себя хлопоты по устройству концерта или же указать мне человека, могущего за известную плату мне оказать эту услугу. За сим начну хлопотать о певице и попрошу Вас деликатным образом узнать, не споёт ли Виардо два-три моих романса, а также сходить к Енгалычевой и попросить её участвовать в концерте. Я уверен, что Colonne лучше меня продирижирует, но всё же я хотел бы быть не совершенно закулисным лицом в своём концерте и желал бы продирижировать что-нибудь одно, что полегче, например, «Журавля». Впрочем, это разъяснится потом. Что касается Вас, то я бы попросил Вас на всякий случай заняться моими фортепианными вариациями и по Вашему выбору ещё одной какой-нибудь пьесой, — ведь это Вам ничего не стоит. Барцевич в Варшаве. Знаю, что он даёт там концерты с целью ехать в Париж, но когда и как не знаю. Котек здесь. Теперь он уехал в Петербург вместе с Ник[олаем] Григ[орьевичем], чтобы участвовать в концерте оркестра русской оперы.

В последнее время я очень часто виделся и близко познакомился с писателем гр. Л. Н. Толстым. Прелестная личность и очень любящая музыку. До свиданья, голубчик. Пишите.

Ваш, П. Чайковский

25 December 1876

Dear Serezha!

Yesterday, when I was at Karl Karlovich's Christmas party at the Conservatory, I received your sweet letter [1].

I have just written a letter to Colonne, asking him to let me know whether he can help me out with his orchestra [2]. If only he gives his consent and replies to me (I addressed my letter directly to the Châtelet) in the affirmative, then there is no doubt that the concert will take place. A thousand rubles is not such a monstrously big sum, and I am sure that I can raise it [3]. I am astonished by how cheap the orchestra and venue are, and I am very satisfied to see that Saint-Saëns is encouraging me to give a concert. As soon as I receive a favourable reply from Colonne, I shall immediately take measures to realize my plan: first of all, I shall ask Jurgenson's correspondent Dufour [4] to take upon himself the business of organizing the concert, or otherwise to point out to me someone who, for a certain fee, can render me this service. After that I shall start looking for a singer, and I would ask you to find out, in a tactful manner, whether Viardot might be willing to sing two or three of my songs [5], as well as to call on Yengalycheva [6] and ask her to take part in the concert. I am sure that Colonne will conduct the concert better than I ever could, but all the same I wouldn't like to be a completely backstage figure at my own concert and I would like to conduct something [7] — one of the easier pieces such as, for instance, "The Crane" [8]. Anyway, this is something that can be be clarified later on. As far as you are concerned, I would kindly ask you in any case to study my piano variations [9]} and one other piece of your choice — after all, this won't cost you any effort [10]. Barcewicz [11] is in Warsaw. I know that he is giving concerts there with a view to coming to Paris, but when and how, I do not know. Kotek is here. He has now left for Petersburg together with Nikolay Grigoryevich in order to take part in a concert given by the orchestra of the Russian Opera.

I have recently been seeing a lot of the writer Count L. N. Tolstoy and have become closely acquainted with him. He is a delightful person and loves music very much. So long, golubchik. Do write to me.

Yours, P. Tchaikovsky

Notes and References

  1. Taneyev had written to his former teacher from Paris on 16/28 December 1876 in response to Tchaikovsky's enquiry about the possibility of organizing a concert of his works in the French capital (see Letter 518 to Taneyev, 5/17 December 1876). Saint-Saëns, whom Taneyev had spoken to about this idea, was enthusiastic and had argued that now was the best time to organize such an event because the overture-fantasia Romeo and Juliet, recently performed at one of the Pasdeloup Concerts, had made a very favourable impression. Taneyev's letter has been published in П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 14.
  2. See Letter 528a to Édouard Colonne, 25 December 1876/6 January 1877.
  3. In his letter of 16/28 December 1876, Taneyev explained that it would cost at the most 2,000 francs in total to pay Colonne's orchestra (for three rehearsals and the concert itself) and to rent the Salle Herz as the concert venue. He advised Tchaikovsky to bring with him to Paris a thousand rubles, which, taking into account the exchange rate, would cover all the expenses.
  4. One of the proprietors of the Parisian music publishing firm Brandus, Dufour & Cie.
  5. Not long after his arrival in Paris in early November 1876, Taneyev had met the city's most famous Russian resident, Ivan Turgenev, who had taken the young musician under his wing and invited him to Pauline Viardot's famous Thursday soirées. Tchaikovsky knew that Turgenev and Pauline Viardot had for some years been expressing a great interest in his music.
  6. Princess Nadezhda Yengalycheva (stage name: Elvira Angeli), Russian opera and lieder singer; she had sung at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre before taking up an engagement at the Opéra-Comique in Paris.
  7. In an earlier letter to Tchaikovsky on 12/24 December 1876 (before his visit to Saint-Saëns), Taneyev had observed that in his view it would be better if Colonne conducted at the concert, because Tchaikovsky lacked experience as a conductor. This letter of Taneyev's has also been published in П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 13.
  8. The finale of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2, which was inspired by the Ukrainian folk tune "The Crane" that the composer so often heard the steward Pyotr Kozidub humming during his stay at Kamenka in the summer of 1872.
  9. Thème original et variations, No. 6 of the Six Pieces, Op. 19, for piano solo — note by Vladimir Zhdanov in П. И. Чайковский. С. И. Танеев. Письма (1951), p. 15.
  10. In his letter of 16/28 December 1876, Taneyev had asked Tchaikovsky whether he really wanted him to play some of his shorter piano pieces after the Piano Concerto No. 1, because, as he put it, that was Tchaikovsky's "most effective" work for the piano. He added, though, that he was willing to study any smaller piece that Tchaikovsky wanted him to perform at this Parisian concert.
  11. Stanisław Barcewicz (1858–1929), Polish violinist and conductor. Barcewicz studied under Ferdinand Laub at the Moscow Conservatory and also attended Tchaikovsky's composition class in 1875–76. From 1885 he was a professor (and director from 1910 to 1919) of the Warsaw Academy of Music; from 1893 he was also director of the Warsaw Opera-House (Teatr wielki) where he had previously been the orchestra's concertmaster.