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Who killed Tchaikovsky? BBC documentary

In order to check the correct pronunciation of Russian names for my Tchaikovsky radio series which I have just started recording, I tonight watched the BBC documentary Who killed Tchaikovsky (1993) and was in for a few surprises which had nothing to do with the so called Court of Honor theory about Tchaikovsky's death.

What I did find, however, were three unforgivable mistakes:

While dicussing Tchaikovsky's First piano concerto it is said that Anton Rubinstein slated the concerto, while in fact it was his brother Nikolay who did so.

At another point it was said that Tchaikovsky as a child asked his mother to stop the music in his head while it was actually their Votkinsk governess Fanny Dürbach. I quote from her reminiscences:

"When I went into the nursery some time later, he was not yet asleep, but he was crying agitatedly with glistening eyes. When I asked what the matter was, he answered: "Oh, this music, this music!" But there was no music to be heard at that moment. "Save me from it! It's here, here!" said the boy sobbing and pointing to his head. "It never leaves me in peace!"

from: Tchaikovsky through others' eyes - compiled and edited by Alexander Poznansky (page 10)

And the worst mistake of all. At the very end of the documentary they have a photo of what is supposed to be Tchaikovsky with the dates 1840 - 1893. And the picture is actually one of the young Bob Davydov!

With such mistakes, can one really take this documentary seriously?

Philip de Vos
(Cape Town, South Africa)
24/06/2013 23:20

Dear Mr. de Vos!

is very commendable your tenacity and passion for the work that you do on our composer. Everyone We wish you a high audience rating! I regret not to be able listen to the program (also because it's in the Afrikaans language). I too have noticed in his time "errors" in the curious documentary made by Holden, a documentary who some friends of the Forum (Mr. George Boyd, Mr. Albert Gasparo) have commented in a discussion about the cinematography regarding Tchaikovsky (especially very attentive Mr . Gasparo and then I myself ...): 

Other discussions in this forum: 

Anthony Holden on Wikipedia: 

The documentary Holden: 

I believe should be accepted with all its limitations. As I wrote in the discussion 334 (02.01.2013) each contribution (even probable) is useful to search for the full truth.

Antonio Garganese
25/06/2013 11:54

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This page was last updated on 05 November 2013