By 1878, Romeo and Juliet played in most musical capitals. In a letter to his patron Nadezhda von Meck, Tchaikovsky comments that the overture plays without success. In Vienna and Paris the audience even 'hissed.'
Writing to Nadezhda von Meck, Tchaikovsky raises poignant questions. What could be more dramatic and touching than Lensky, a brilliant young poet, losing his life by colliding with a false code of 'honor'?
Tchaikovsky writes to Nadezhda von Meck that Tatyana is not just a provincial little girl that falls for the man of the world. She is a dreamy and impressionable young woman in search of her ideal love. If no one matches Tatyana’s ideal, she remains disappointed but serene. With the appearance of one man (Onegin) who stands out, Tatyana’s imagines that her ideal has come and her intense passion is revealed
In an 1883 letter to his patron Nadezhda von Meck, Tchaikovsky describes his deep admiration for Pushkin’s genius and that he would be proud and happy if his music captured 10% of the beauty contained in Eugene Onegin poem. He confesses that if Onegin music is warm and full of poetic feeling, it is because his own emotions were intensified by the beauty of the subject.
Nadezhda von Meck was Tchaikovsky's sponsor, helping him leave Moscow Conservatory to compose full time. In late spring of 1878, Tchaikovsky offered to send von Meck sketches of Eugene Onegin. He felt this was his most fluently written work, easy to read, with few corrections.