Home > Forum > Tchaikovsky/Von Meck Letters

Tchaikovsky/Von Meck Letters

Dear Sir,

Could you let me know if there is somewhere a place where one can read the Tchaikovsky/Von Meck letters translated into English?

I know there are many , but perhaps there is a place where one can see the most interesting ones? Has anyone ever done this in some sort of performance? It would be interesting to know.


Barrett Wiseman

Hi Barrett,

To My Best Friend: Correspondence between Tchaikovsky and Nadezhda von Meck, 1876-1878

To my knowledge this is the best offering on the subject in features over 260 letters between the two in this the peak of their relationship...indeed it is an excellent intro into Tchaikovsky's brings you very close to both participants...Madame Von Meck perhaps the more open of the two and the composer more reserved...

According to the Forum there is a new publication of the complete correspondence in progress but it is in Russian...

For a modest $19.95 monthly fee you can read this book in Questia.....that's a lot cheaper than the offering in Amazon and Barnes and Noble where the charges are over $150.00. Other than that I would suggest you may be able to borrow it from your local Music Library if you are near any such...

And so I would strongly recommend this edition...

Best Wishes,

Albert Gasparo

In all modesty I can say that I used the subject for a play that went on very successfully in Copenhagen spring 2009.

Being fascinated by the correspondence for years - wondering why on earth Tchaikovsky and von Meck never ever met for just one cup of tea over the old samovar - I have attempted to unveil the very complex story and driver behind the whole matter by carefully reading as many letters as possible over and over again, and not the least so to speak between the lines (and of course comparing them with other letters; f.e. to Modest Tchaikovsky.)

I warmly recommend the correspondence, which has been one of the most beneficial and satisfying readings I have experienced, to anybody with great interest in psychology, culture and a good love/best-friend-story.

Best regards,

Erling Eliasson

Letters, exchanged between Tchaikovsky and N. von Meck, were originally intended for the respective recipients only. These letters should therefore be treated as private and confidential property of both authors.

I am unaware of any Wills left by either Tchaikovsky or von Meck that contain clauses, authorizing the executors of their estates to publish the letters. I even suspect that Tchaikovsky did not leave a legally enforceable Will, as his departure was so sudden.

Perhaps I am missing some essential information, but right now I have failed to come across credible evidence that publication of the letters is in line with the wishes of either Tchaikovsky or von Meck.

If, to my utter regret, I am right in this respect, the publication appears to be an unwarranted invasion of privacy of two personalities who rightfully deserve to be held in high regard. I sincerely hope however that this view of mine does not reflect the real situation as far as the legality of the publication is concerned.

I would be looking forward for opposing views from someone who has a credible knowledge on this issue, important to anyone, who treasures the memory of the great composer.

A. Geidelberg

Actually Tchaikovsky did leave a will, in which his brother Modest was named as an executor. Modest had no reservations about publishing hundreds of the composer's letters in his own biography (1900–02), since at the time it was common practice for letters from any famous people to be published after their deaths — not just in Russia, but worldwide. Modest sought to obtain the originals (or at least copies) of all his brother's letters, for preservation and study at the museum he founded at Klin.

Tchaikovsky's letters to Nadezhda von Meck eventually ended up in the custody of his niece Anna, who was the wife of his benefactress's son Nikolai von Meck. When the latter was arrested and executed by the Soviet authorities in 1929, many of the original letters were smuggled out of Russia by Anna; however, handwritten copies had already been deposited in the museum at Klin (now run by the Soviet authorities) and these formed the basis for the first complete published edition of Tchaikovsky's correspondence with Nadezhda von Meck, edited by Vladimir Zhdanov and Nikolai Zhegin, and published in 3 volumes between 1934 and 1936. These were reprinted in the 1970s and 1980s in the "complete" collected edition of Tchaikovsky's correspondence (running to over 5,000 letters to hundreds of persons).

Anna's daughter Galina von Meck translated many (but not all) of the letters between her grandmother and Tchaikovsky into English, in the collection To My Best Friend mentioned in one of the postings above.

I understand that the 2008 edition of the Tchaikovsky/von Meck correspondence is based on the original letters, rather than the manuscript copies only available in the 1930s, and corrects some mistakes in the previous publication, as well as incorporating new material that had been discovered during the seven intervening decades.

So whether or not their publication might be considered 'authorized', the letters in question have been in print for a very long time, and we have learned an enormous amount from them.

Brett Langston

Hello everyone. The published set of letters, translated by Galina von Meck, are most delightful to read. I am currently reading Galina von Mecks autobiography titled, As I remember them (London 1973). In her book she discusses her brief encounter with her grandmother, Nadezhda von Meck and although she was too young to remember her Tchaikovsky, she documents how she met several of Tchaikovsky's friends (people who knew him well) such as Taneev, members of his family, etc. Galina von Meck was Tchaikovsky's grand niece has she was the daughter of Nadezhda von Meck's son Nikolai and Tchaikovsky's sister's daughter, Anna.

The book is available on several websites, but I recommend Barnes and Noble booksellers in the United States because has sellers charging an unpleasant price. I found the book for $8 USD on Barnes and Noble compared to over $200 USD on

Michael Svoboda

Dear Sirs,

I am so glad to read all this as I have just written a short poem (4 stanzas) entitled


How much did this great compose suffer! One of the most poignant love-stories of all time.

I live in Melbourne--melodies-writer, tenor, violinist- writer of poetry and prose.

I shall keep track of all contributions pertaining to this subject.

With my deep appreciation and best wishes

Dr Peter Lim
09/10/2013 09:31

Hi Barrett,

There is a Russian website where all(?) the Tchaikovsky/Von Meck letters are published: 

With the help of Google Translate you can read them (in bad English of course, but in general it’s quite clear where it’s all about).

Best whishes,

Rien Schraagen
17/10/2013 15:38

This discussion is closed and has been archived, but you are welcome to try our new forum at:

Please note that we are not responsible for the content of external web-sites

This page was last updated on 05 November 2013