Were the songs Tchaikovsky composed on German and French texts written
in the original languages or composed with the Russian translation?
Hope somebody knows. It is my understanding that he set them in the original
languages first and later they were all translated in to Russian.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tchaikovsky normally set his songs to Russian versions of the source texts,
leaving his publishers to commission translations of the texts into other
languages—particularly German, French, English or Polish. One of the few
exceptions to this rule was the Six French Songs
(Op. 65), which were written to the French texts, with
Russian translations following later.
Richard D. Sylvester's recent book Tchaikovsky's Complete Songs
(ISBN 0–253–34041–1) examines in detail how Tchaikovsky modified his texts
to suit their musical settings, and even came up with his own verses when
the occasion called for it.
Hope this helps