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Iosif Kotek

I once read - I can't remember where, unfortunately - that Tchaikovsky's pet-name for Iosif Kotek was 'Soso Kotik'. There doesn't seem to be any reference to this on the Tchaikovsky Research site. I do know that 'kotik' is the diminutive form of the Russian word 'kot' (a male cat), and that Stalin's mother called her son 'Soso', which is a baby-name for boys called Iosif. Is it conceivable that Tchaikovsky's nickname for his favourite pupil was 'Joe the Tomcat'? This is a quite enchanting idea, bearing in mind Tchaikovsky's infatuation with Iosif, and his witty, high-spirited and touching account of a nocturnal jaunt they took together through the fiery cold to dine in a private room. But is it true?

Please accept my apologies if I'm reiterating yet more drivel I've picked up during my long and misinformed life as a Tchaikovsky fanatic!

Michael Porter

02/09/2011 10:56

There isn't any actual evidence that Tchaikovsky used the nickname "Soso" for the violinist Iosif Kotek, but it is correct that Stalin's mother called her child that way (this diminutive has its roots in the Georgian language, rather than in Russian).

Iosif Kotek was born in Ukraine, his father was Czech by origin and his mother Russian. Tchaikovsky only slightly modified the last name of his former student to "Kotik" or "Kot", which means 'tomcat' in Russian.

Alexander Poznansky

04/09/2011 15:28

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