In April of 1891, Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky made the long journey to New York where he was to play a pivotal role in the inauguration of the city’s new music hall, later known as Carnegie Hall—a momentous occasion and the first time he had set foot in the United States. The trip was a huge success. New Yorkers welcomed him warmly and his every public appearance met with applause and admiration, all of which left an indelible impression on the American musical landscape. But it wasn’t all plain sailing. After two weeks of adulation, Tchaikovsky boarded the steamship Prince Bismarck and headed back to Europe, and in the diary he kept during the tour, he described the voyage.
The Diary Entry
24 May 1891
A disgusting day! The weather is horrible. The sea is raging. Seasickness. Vomited. Ate one orange the whole day.
Tchaikovsky’s diaries were first published in 1923, in Russian, as edited by his brother, Ippolit. An English language edition arrived in 1945, translated by Wladimir Lakond and published by W. W. Norton & Co. Titled The Diaries of Tchaikovsky, that edition can be read at the Internet Archive.
There is also Tchaikovsky Research, an ongoing, collaborative website run by a network of Tchaikovsky enthusiasts who aim to accurately translate the composer’s work, letters, and diaries into English. The section dedicated to his diaries is here.
(FYI, the translation I’ve used above is from the 1945 book.)
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