Having seen that most recently Alexander Poznansky has been active on
this forum, I'd like to use this opportunity to ask him a question about
what seems to be quite a riddle for me:
In his book, Tchaikovsky - The Quest for the Inner Man, London: Lime
Tree, 1993, p. 119 , he has written the following about the "Romeo and
Juliet Overture": "Considerable caution is always required when relating a
musical composition directly to biographical tribulation, for a work of
art nearly always obscures and transcends the experience that gives
impetus to its composition. [...] In the case of Tchaikovsky's "Romeo and
Juliet", an intimate link can be seen between this fervent piece of music
and an obscure drama unfolding in the composer's life at the time of its
composition [in autumn 1869, GM]: his infatuation with a young man by the
name of Edvard Zak."
However, on the next page, A. Poznansky mentions that Edvard Zak has
only been mentioned three times in Tchaikovsky's published writings, the
first time being in a letter of 28 November 1871 - some full two years
AFTER the composition of the first version of the "Romeo and Juliet"
Now, I would be very curious to know what are the reasons that are
leading Alexander Poznansky to conclude that Tchaikovky did not only know
about Edvard Zak in 1869, but even get closelly in touch with him at that
time. Is it simply a conjecture in order to better be able to explain the
stunning beauty of the love theme in the "Romeo and Juliet Overture", or
are there other, clear clues that indeed Tchaikovsky must have known
Edvard Zak at this early stage.
Then, I wonder whether in the mean time more is known about Edvard Zak
himself than the very few data mentioned in "Tchaikovsky - The Quest for
the Inner Man". (The only things known about Zak are that he was 19
years-old when he committed suicide in November 1873 and seems to
have been a cousin of Tchaikovsky's pupil at the Moscow Conservatory,
With many thanks in advance,
Dear Mr. Muhlemann,
If you turn to our postings in the Forum on "Hotel Normandie", you will find a good deal
of discussion on this fellow Edvard Zak and how close Tchaikovsky was to
him..You will have to go to my postings of 27/12/2012 21:05 to get my
conclusive remarks on the subject. I make it very clear that under
Chronology for Autumn 1869 there are two entries...1. He meets Milii
Balakirev in Moscow, and under his influence writeHotel Normandies the Overture-Fantasia Romeo and
Juliet...2. He begins a passionate friendship with the conservatory
student Edvard Zak....Zak was only fifteen...so it seems a good deal of
the composition was written inspired by Zak.....this Chronology comes from
our own Tchaikovsky-Research....all we know about Zak is discussed in the
Forum...I too conferred with Poznansky's book...I believe our discussions
on this topic will answer your question...
Dear Mr. Gasparo
Thank you very much for your information and especially for the link to
the "Hotel Normandie".
Yet, I still think that this matter is in no way settled. Although in
the chronology about Tchaikovsky's life on the website
Tchaikovsky-Research-net there is a mention for the year 1869 whereas
Tchaikovksky "...begins a passionate friendship with conservatory student
Eduard Zak..." one should not forget, that this entry (as well as the
whole text...) has been written by Mr. Alexander Poznansky himself, which
means that there is no other source for Tchaikovsky's contacts with Edvard
Zak in 1869 already than the already mentioned one in Poznansky's
"Tchaikovsky - The Quest for the Inner Man".
This means, that basically nothing has changed.
Therefore, it would be very interesting to hear from Mr. Poznansky
himself on which sources he has based this information in his book, or
whether it was just an - although somewhat understandable - speculation of
I'm now really very curious to know what Mr. Poznansky will have to
tell us on this issue.
With best regards,
Hello all. Here is some information concerning Eduard Zak from my new
book Tchaikovsky. A Biography, recently published in Russia. I hope
that it will help to clarify this tragic episode from the composer's life:
I find it interesting that Mr Poznansky also mentions on page 40 of his
Quest for the Inner Man that some scholars have insisted that the Romeo
and Juliet Overture arose out of Tchaikovsky's unrequited love for
Philip de Vos
Cape Town - South Africa
Dear Mr Poznansky
I'd like to thank you very much for your quick and detailed response to
my question. I think, now the situation is much clearer...
Unfortunately, I'm not fluent in the Russian language, therefore, I'd
like to ask you when your new book "Tchaikovsky. A Biography" will be
available in English?
Because - if my recollection is correct - you have announced last year
that an English edition is being planned.
With best regards,