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Cover for The Tchaikovsky Papers

The Tchaikovsky Papers

Unlocking the Family Archive

Marina Kostalevsky (Editor), Stephen Pearl (Translated by), Polina E. Vaidman (Compiled by)


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This fascinating collection of letters, notes, and miscellanea from the archives of the Tchaikovsky State House-Museum sheds new light on the world of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Most of these documents have never before been available in English, and they reveal the composer’s daily concerns, private thoughts, and playful sense of humor. Often intimate and sometimes bawdy, these texts also offer a new perspective on Tchaikovsky’s upbringing, his relations with family members, his patriotism, and his homosexuality, collectively contributing to a greater understanding of a major artist who had a profound impact on Russian culture and society. This is an essential compendium for cultural and social historians as well as musicologists and music lovers.

Praise For The Tchaikovsky Papers: Unlocking the Family Archive

“Essential in filling out a more humane and complete portrait of the composer and his art.”—Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe

“These newly translated documents provide deeper insight both into Tchaikovsky himself, and the family circle and larger society in which he was active.”—Rebecca Mitchell, Canadian-American Slavic Studies

“Kostalevsky and Pearl have done a wonderful service to the Anglophone world in adapting and translating into English the original Russian version of this book.”—W. E. Grim, Choice

Winner of the Outstanding Academic Title for 2018 award sponsored by Choice

"We are now at home with much that was once taboo about Tchaikovsky—his tsarist loyalties, his homosexuality, how he died. But the Sentimentalism of his letters, its emotional register, still startles the modern reader. This revealing collection helps us see that how one writes letters is only a small part of who one is."—Caryl Emerson, Princeton University

“This collection of finely translated letters, documents, and musical mementos moves Tchaikovsky considerably beyond the vapid biographical clichés of yesteryear. Turns out, the genius was also a human being —funny, coarse, germaphobic, borderline alcoholic, with great friends and supportive siblings. Gay? Fine by them.”—Simon Morrison, Princeton University

"This indispensable volume, containing copious unpublished private correspondence, allows us to gain an unparalleled insight into Tchaikovsky as a human being, and thus move beyond the clichés surrounding the composer’s biography." —Rosamund Bartlett, author of Tolstoy: A Russian Life

Yale University Press, 9780300191363, 320pp.

Publication Date: April 24, 2018

About the Author

Marina Kostalevsky is an associate professor of Russian at Bard College. She is the author of many publications on Russian literature and music. Stephen Pearl is former chief of English interpretation at the United Nations. His translations have won the 2008 AATSEEL Prize (for Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov) and been short-listed for the 2016 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize (for Goncharov’s The Same Old Story).