Sister of Tchaikovsky's schoolfriend Fyodor Maslov (b. 1839; d. 1905), born Varvara Ivanovna Maslova (Варвара Ивановна Маслова).
Varvara was the eldest of the five Maslov siblings. She read a lot and was proficient in German, English, and French. She was very keen on painting as well, and in her spare time she would decorate ceramics and do poker-work. At the age of 42 she decided to enrol in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, where she studied under Vladimir Makovsky and was in the same class as Lev Tolstoy's daughter, Tatyana, who, despite being twenty-five years younger, became a close friend.
During the summer months from 1880 to 1885 Varvara helped the composer Sergey Taneyev, a regular guest at the Maslovs' estate Selishche, in Oryol province, to translate Ludwig Bussler's famous textbook on counterpoint from German into Russian.
In 1893 Tchaikovsky dedicated his piano pieceImpromptu — No. 1 of the Eighteen Pieces, Op. 72 — to Varvara Maslova.
Correspondence with Tchaikovsky
2 letters from Tchaikovsky to Varvara Maslova have survived, dating from 1882 and 1891, and have both been translated into English on this website:
- Letter 2074 – 10/22 August 1882, from Moscow (addressed jointly to Varvara and Fyodor Maslov, Anna Maslova and Sofya Maslova)
- Letter 4560 – 19 November/1 December 1891, from Maydanovo (addressed jointly to Varvara and her sisters Anna Maslova and Sofya Maslova)
2 letters from Varvara Maslova to Tchaikovsky, dating from 1882 and 1887, are preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive.
- Tamara Slutskaya, "«Очень хочется в Селище...» (Танеев и семья Масловых)" in E. V. Fetisova (ed.), Новое о Танееве (Moscow, 2007), p. 57–69