Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Great Russian writer

"To love someone means to see them as God intended them"

Tchaikovsky on Dostoevsky and his novel “The Brothers Karamazov”

According to Tchaikovsky’s letters, almost all the characters in the novel “The Brothers Karamazov” seemed to the composer either crazy or painfully nervous, and the atmosphere of the novel was oppressive and heavy.

It is known that Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky read Dostoevsky’s novel “The Brothers Karamazov” when it was first published in the magazine “Russian Bulletin”, starting in January 1879. The composer followed the publication of the new parts of “Karamazov”, but read them with a painful desire to finish as soon as possible.

 Below are excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s letters about the novel “The Brothers Karamazov” and in general about Dostoevsky’s work.

 Tchaikovsky ‘s letter to his brother Anatoly dated February 15/27 , 1879:

“And I, as if on purpose, am impressed by Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov. If you haven’t read this, run and immediately get the “Russian Bulletin” for January. There is a scene when the elder Zosima receives visitors in the monastery hermitage. By the way, a woman is depicted, heartbroken because all her children died, and after the last child, she was overcome by a crazy melancholy, and she left her husband, wanders. When I read her story about the death of her last child and the words in which she describes her hopeless longing, I burst into tears as I had not cried for a long time from reading. It made an amazing impression on me.”


Tchaikovsky ‘s letter to Nadezhda von Meck dated February 16 , 1879:

“In [this story], as always with Dostoevsky, some strange madcaps appear on the stage, some painfully nervous figures, more resembling creatures from the realm of delirium and sleepy dreams than real people.  As always, he has something aching, dreary, hopeless in this story, but, as always, the moments are almost brilliant episodes, some incomprehensible revelations of artistic analysis.”

 Tchaikovsky ‘s letter to his brother Modest dated May 20 , 1879:

“I read in the new book of the Russian Messenger the continuation of the Karamazovs. It’s starting to be unbearable. Every single character is crazy. In general, Dostoevsky is only possible for one part of the novel. Then there is always confusion.”

Tchaikovsky ‘s letter to his brother Modest dated August 23 , 1881:

“I’m reading the Karamazovs and I’m eager to get it over with as soon as possible. Dostoevsky is a brilliant but antipathic writer. The more I read, the more it weighs on me.”