Congratulating you on the great effectiveness of your website, I would
be grateful if someone, or still better Mr. Brett Langston in person,
could clarify some issues about the letter exchange between the musician
and Baroness von Meck.
Considering their correspondence lasted 14 years, during which period
they would daily write one or more letters to each other, I wonder if it
is possible to estimate the exact or at least probable total amount of
We know that part of the letters have been lost (destroyed by the
families or made unavailable), that the remaining letters have been
variously published and a new Russian release is under way, as you state
in your website.
Mr. Alexander Poznansky made an estimate of about "1.200 letters" in
his biography, whereas in the section "People: N.von Meck" we can read of
"hundreds" of letters.
The numer 1.200 most frequently appears, also in biographies in
Italian, though Claudio Casini in:
[Claudio, Casini; Maria, Delogu, Čajkovskij, 1a ed. Milano, Rusconi,
1993. ISBN 88-18-21017-3 (ripubblicato in seguito presso Bompiani, Milano,
2005 ISBN 88-4525-548-4)] pag.179
writes of "TWELVE THOUSANDS" LETTERS ... .
Moreover, Mr. Victor Seroff in:
[Seroff, Victor I., Debussy, Nuova Accademia Editrice, Milano, 1960
(tit.orig. Debussy. (Musician of France), Putnam's Sons, New York, s.d.
(trad.it. di Mara Andreoni)] : pag.29-30 and note
wrote of more than 2.000 letters of which only 1.200 have been
published, part of them having been "hidden".
Another wrong estimate (Bellingardi in
[Luigi Bellingardi, Invito all'ascolto di Čajkovskij, Milano, Mursia,
1990. ISBN 88-4250-544-7]
and others) calculates less than 800 letters.
Somewhere I read the number of 11.000 ...(?)
In your site, referring to "The Tchaikovsky Handbook" you quote 5.248
general classified letters, but comprising all those written to different
subjects, I understand. In this respect Mr. Hofman
[Hofmann, Michel-Rotislav, Tchaikovski, Edition du Seuil, Paris,1959]
writes of 4.000 letters written to Laroche by the musician.
Tchaikovsky was actually able even to write 18 letters a day, as
himself wrote to one of his brothers ....
It would be great if you helped me solve this doubt.
Prato, Florence (Italy)
Thank you for your enquiry. A total of 1203 letters between
Tchaikovsky and Nadezhda von Meck are known, of which 768 were written by
the composer, and 435 by Mrs von Meck.
In addition to these, there are perhaps ten more letters
between them that are known about (because they are mentioned in other
letters), but which haven't survived. This includes Tchaikovsky's last
letter to his benefactress in 1891.
Every decade perhaps a dozen or so 'new' letters written by
Tchaikovsky turn up at auction (the most recent being one from 1884 to his
friend Luicen Guitry). The total of 5,248 letters given in the Tchaikovsky
Handbook (published in 2002) has since increased to 5,259. But the idea
that vast hordes of secret correspondence were hidden or destroyed is a