Mathilde Cossmann

Tchaikovsky Research

German acquaintance of the composer (b. Mathilde Hilb).

The daughter of a merchant from Karlsruhe, she married the cellist Bernhard Cossmann (1822–1910), who from 1866 to 1870 had taught at the Moscow Conservatory (where Tchaikovsky was his colleague) before he decided to return to Germany with his family. They had settled first in Baden-Baden, but in 1878 they moved to Frankfurt-am-Main, where Cossmann became one of the co-founders of the Hoch Conservatory. Mathilde and her husband had at least two children: a son, Paul (1869–1942), and a daughter, Lulu, both of whom were close friends of the composer Hans Pfitzner (1869–1949) in his early years.

In 1889, while in Frankfurt, Tchaikovsky met the elder Cossmann at rehearsals for his concert, and the composer was invited to dine with his former colleague later that evening. The two men had evidently not met since Cossmann's departure from Russia in 1870. An entry in Tchaikovsky's diary for 2/14 February 1889 reads: "Dinner at Cossmann's. He has aged awfully. Pleasing wife and daughters. [...] Home. Unpleasant realization of failure. At Cossmann's. Supper" [1]. The cellist and his wife had also seen Tchaikovsky off on the day of his departure from Frankfurt on 4/16 February, as he duly recorded in his diary: "With Madame Cossmann to the railroad station. Lunch. Knorr, he and his wife, and old Cossmann" [2]. The composer is known to have written to Mathilde Cossmann on at least one occasion soon after this meeting.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

One letter from Tchaikovsky to Mathilde Cossmann has survived, dating from 1889, and has been translated into English on this website:

Notes and References

  1. Diary entry for 2/14 February 1889. Here quoted from The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1973), p. 258.
  2. Diary entry for 4/16 February 1889. Here quoted from The Diaries of Tchaikovsky (1973), p. 259.