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Vladimir L'vovich Davydov

There is one person from Tchaikovsky's genealogy in who I am exremely curious. It appeared in my mind when I was reading the recent post on forum also concerning the Tchaikovsky's genealogy. This person is Vladimir L'vovich Davydov also known as "Bob". I know very little about his life. First I was shocked by the information that he comitted suicide, and shocked more when I read that it was in composer's house! I cannot find some closer informations about this incident on the internet. Why there is so little written about composer's beloved Bob? Can be any connection with his suicide and composer's unresolved question about death? If the composer did not comitted suicide Bob could be still inspired by Tchaikovsky's attempt to get deadly disease (walking into the water to get pneumonia in unhappy marriage). What was the Bob's relation to Tchaikovsky? Did he like his music? Did he appreciate the 6th symphony dedication? I am sorry for the numerous questions but I am very curious.

Marcel in Slovakia

Vladimir Davidov, or "Bob" as he was known to his family, was the son of Tchaikovsky's sister Aleksandra, and her husband Lev Davydov. Bob was always the composer's favourite nephew, and he received the dedication of Tchaikovsky's Children's Album in 1878 and the Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique) in 1893.

After Aleksandra's death in 1891, and Lev Davydov's remarriage the following year to her cousin (which caused a split within the family), Tchaikovsky seems to have felt extra resonsibilities towards the 20-year-old Bob, in many ways regarding him as the son he would never have.

In 1897, four years after the composer's death, Bob resigned his commission in the Preobrazhenskii Regiment, and moved with his uncle Modest into Tchaikovsky's house at Klin, which was then being converted into a museum in memory of the composer. In his book Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man (1991), Alexander Poznansky explained what happened next:

"... the great hopes that Tchaikovsky had once had for his favourite nephew were never fulfilled. Bob never developed into the outstanding personality that his uncle saw in him, and while endowed with certain musical and artistic gifts, he never became more than a dilettante. His presence at the deathbed agony of his beloved uncle seems to have severely traumatized his own psyche, and he soon lost all interest not only in success in life, but even in life itself. There have been rumours of morphine addiction, not at all surprising given the fate of his mother and his elder sister, with whom he had become particularly close in the last years of her life. Continuous awareness of his role in his uncle's life and of the fact that he must inevitably live in his uncle's shadow may have further contributed to his deterioration. Throughout his life Bob suffered agonizing headaches that drove him to despair—and, according to his brother Yury, to suicide. While such an explanation is obviously shaky, until new documentary evidence is brought to light we shall not know the direct cause and circumstances of Bob Davydov's death. in 1906, at the age of thirty-four, Bob shot himself in an apparent fit of depression."

From: Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man (1991),
pp. 610–611. Copyright (c) 1991 Alexander Poznansky

Brett Langston

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