TCHAIKOVSKY, Pyotr Ilyich (1840-1893). Autograph letter signed (‘P Tchaikovsky’; in Cyrillic) to Yekaterina Laroche (‘Madame Katou!’), Klin, 1 August [1893].
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TCHAIKOVSKY, Pyotr Ilyich (1840-1893). Autograph letter signed (‘P Tchaikovsky’; in Cyrillic) to Yekaterina Laroche (‘Madame Katou!’), Klin, 1 August [1893].

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TCHAIKOVSKY, Pyotr Ilyich (1840-1893). Autograph letter signed (‘P Tchaikovsky’; in Cyrillic) to Yekaterina Laroche (‘Madame Katou!’), Klin, 1 August [1893].

In Russian. 8 pages, 181 x 113mm, two bifolia.

‘If I am not mistaken, if this symphony is not my best work, I have, at least, never been so pleased with myself and have never before been so conscious that there is something in me’: during his last months, Tchaikovsky writes of the Pathétique Symphony and requests the loan of a significant amount of money. Tchaikovsky writes with some relief to his friend, having heard from her after a period of silence: ‘I too did not know where you were or where to write to you … [his cousin, Annette Merkling] replied that you had disappeared and that there was no news of you … I only knew from the newspapers that a new Theatre Gazette is about to appear and that H.A. Laroche [Yekaterina’s husband, Herman] is the editor of the music section’. He enquires after their current situation, trying to arrange a visit before he travels to St Petersburg then abroad, before making ‘a request which will probably startle you considerably. I badly need 1000 roubles. For certain reasons I don’t want to ask [Pyotr] Jurgenson this time’. Tchaikovsky sets out the proposed conditions of the loan in some detail, including an important note: ‘There will be no risk to my creditor for in case of my decease during the 7 months, my inheritors would pay from my performing rights … I have no debts, so that the deal is absolutely safe’. His recent travels have taken him from England to Paris, from the Tyrol to the Ukraine – to visit [Nikolay] Konradi – and thereafter to Kursk province to visit his brother Nikolai; he arrived in Klin two weeks ago, and since then has been ‘completely immersed in scoring my new symphony [Symphony No. 6, the Pathétique Symphony]. If I am not mistaken, if this symphony is not my best work, I have, at least, never been so pleased with myself and have never before been so conscious that there is something in me’. Continuing on his ‘extremely quiet and regular’ life, without health complaints, Tchaikovsky reports that ‘Weinberg has written to ask me to collaborate with him on his newspaper and has asked for permission to list my name among his contributors’: he has acceded to the second request, but ‘I told him that I shall hardly write anything literary’. He closes after mentioning ‘the subject of England and the professorship’.

Newly reconvinced that ‘there is something in me’, Tchaikovsky writes one of his final letters to his old friend Yekaterina Laroche upon finishing the Pathétique Symphony, the last of his compositions to be premiered in his lifetime in a performance he conducted just nine days before his death. It was his final completed symphony, and he would write to his brother of the Pathétique: ‘I believe it comes into being as the best of my works’. Finding himself short of money in 1893, Tchaikovsky would be inspired to compose a number of short piano works to raise some funds: these became the Eighteen Pieces, Op.72, including Dialogue (No. 8), which he dedicated to Yaketerina Laroche.
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