Karl Davydov

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Karl Davydov
Background information
Birth nameKarl Yulievich Davydov
Карл Юльевич Давыдов
Born15 March 1838 [ O.S. 3 March 1838]
Flag of Russia.svg Goldingen, Courland Governorate, Russian Empire
Died26 February 1889 [ O.S. 14 February 1889] (age 51)
Moscow, Imperial Russia
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) Cellist, composer, conductor, pedagogue
Instruments Violoncello
Years activefl. ca. 1850–1889

Karl Yulievich Davydov (Russian : Карл Юльевич Давыдов; 15 March [ O.S. 3 March] 1838 26 February [ O.S. 14 February] 1889) was a Russian cellist of great renown during his time, and described by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as the "czar of cellists". He was also a composer, mainly for the cello.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Old Style and New Style dates 16th-century changes in calendar conventions

Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are terms sometimes used with dates to indicate that the calendar convention used at the time described is different from that in use at the time the document was being written. There were two calendar changes in Great Britain and its colonies, which may sometimes complicate matters: the first was to change the start of the year from Lady Day to 1 January; the second was to discard the Julian calendar in favour of the Gregorian calendar. Closely related is the custom of dual dating, where writers gave two consecutive years to reflect differences in the starting date of the year, or to include both the Julian and Gregorian dates.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Russian composer

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, was a Russian composer of the romantic period, whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. He was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III, and awarded a lifetime pension.



Davydov was the son of a physician from Courland Governorate. His elder brother August Davydov was a noted mathematician and educator, and his nephew Alexei Davidov also became cellist and composer and also a businessman.

Courland Governorate governorate of the Russian Empire

Courland Governorate, also known as the Province of Courland, Governorate of Kurland, and Government of Courland, was one of the Baltic governorates of the Russian Empire, that is now part of the Republic of Latvia.

August Davidov Russian mathematician

August Yulevich Davidov was a Russian mathematician and engineer, professor at Moscow University, and author of works on differential equations with partial derivatives, definite integrals, and the application of probability theory to statistics, and textbooks on elementary mathematics which were repeatedly reprinted from the 1860s to the 1920s. He was president of the Moscow Mathematical Society from 1866 to 1885.

Alexei Davidov Russian musician and businessman

Alexei Augustovich Davidov (1867-1940) was a Russian cellist and composer, and also a banker, industrialist, and businessman.

In his youth Davydov studied mathematics at Moscow State University, and then pursued a career as a composer, studying with Moritz Hauptmann at the Leipzig Conservatory. He became a full-time cellist in 1850 while continuing to compose in his spare time. He later became head of the St Petersburg Conservatory. He had many students, including Aleksandr Verzhbilovich.

Mathematics Field of study concerning quantity, patterns and change

Mathematics includes the study of such topics as quantity, structure, space, and change.

Moscow State University university in Moscow, Russia

Moscow State University is a coeducational and public research university located in Moscow, Russia. It was founded on 23 January [O.S. 12 January] 1755 by Mikhail Lomonosov. MSU was renamed after Lomonosov in 1940 and was then known as Lomonosov University. It also houses the tallest educational building in the world. Its current rector is Viktor Sadovnichiy. According to the 2018 QS World University Rankings, it is the highest-ranking Russian educational institution and is widely considered the most prestigious university in the former Soviet Union.

Moritz Hauptmann German music theorist, teacher and composer

Moritz Hauptmann, was a German music theorist, teacher and composer.

In 1870 Count Wilhorsky, a patron of the arts, presented Davydov with a Stradivarius cello constructed in 1712. This cello, now known as the Davidov Stradivarius , was owned by Jacqueline du Pré until her death and is currently on loan to cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Stradivarius string instrument

A Stradivarius is one of the violins, violas, cellos and other string instruments built by members of the Italian family Stradivari, particularly Antonio Stradivari, during the 17th and 18th centuries. According to their reputation, the quality of their sound has defied attempts to explain or equal it, though this belief is disputed. The fame of Stradivarius instruments is widespread, appearing in numerous works of fiction.

Cello musical instrument

The cello ( CHEL-oh; plural cellos or celli) or violoncello ( VY-ə-lən-CHEL-oh; Italian pronunciation: [vjolonˈtʃɛllo]) is a string instrument. It is played by bowing or plucking its four strings, which are usually tuned in perfect fifths an octave lower than the viola: from low to high, C2, G2, D3 and A3. It is the bass member of the violin family, which also includes the violin, viola and the double bass, which doubles the bass line an octave lower than the cello in much of the orchestral repertoire. After the double bass, it is the second-largest and second lowest (in pitch) bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra. The cello is used as a solo instrument, as well as in chamber music ensembles (e.g., string quartet), string orchestras, as a member of the string section of symphony orchestras, most modern Chinese orchestras, and some types of rock bands.

The Davidov Stradivarius, is an antique cello made in 1712 by Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari of Cremona, Italy. It is very similar in construction and form to the equally famed Duport Stradivarius, built a year earlier and played by Mstislav Rostropovich until his death in 2007. The varnish is of a rich orange-red hue, produced with oil color glazes. Its owners have included Carl Davidoff and Jacqueline du Pré, and it is currently used by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

He intended to write an opera on the subject of Mazeppa. Viktor Burenin wrote a libretto for this purpose in 1880, but when Davydov proved unable to find the time to compose, Burenin offered the libretto to Tchaikovsky.

Viktor Burenin Russian critic and satirist

Viktor Petrovich Burenin was a Russian literary and theatre critic, publicist, novelist, dramatist, translator and satirical poet notorious for his confrontational articles and satirical poems, mostly targeting leftist writers. He was the author of several popular plays, novels and opera librettos.

Although closely associated with Tchaikovsky, Karl Davydov was not related to the Davydov clan into which Tchaikovsky's sister Alexandra married. Davydov died in Moscow on 26 February 1889. Anton Arensky dedicated his first piano trio to Davydov's memory.

Anton Arensky Russian composer, pianist and professor of music

Anton Stepanovich Arensky was a Russian composer of Romantic classical music, a pianist and a professor of music.

Piano Trio No. 1 (Arensky)

Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 32, for violin, cello and piano is a Romantic chamber composition by the Russian composer Anton Arensky. It was written in 1894 and is in four movements:

  1. Allegro moderato – Unlike the agitated opening melody of the first movement from Mendelssohn's Piano Trio No. 1, this piece opens gently, lyrically and elegiacally, setting an autumnal mood of the whole work. This movement ends with a coda marked "Adagio".
  2. Scherzo – The movement in the parallel key features flying notes, and a waltz-like middle section mainly in B-flat major. The movement is cheerful throughout.
  3. Elegia (Adagio) – Following the cheerful scherzo comes the contrasting and sad slow movement in the subdominant minor. Presenting no formal grief but memorial thoughts, this movement is deeply elegiac but not funereal. The middle section begins in G major but involves a number of key modulations, which makes the passage that initially evokes a brighter mood even more affecting yet dreamlike later on.
  4. Finale – Back in D minor, the movement opens dramatically. Later comes a recollection of themes from the third and first movements, which is followed by a turbulent ending that restates the primary theme of this movement.

Cello Transcriptions

Davydov (also appeared in different spellings: Davidoff / Davidov) transcribed and arranged Chopin's solo piano works for violoncello and piano accompaniment. Transcription albums of Walzer and Mazurkas published by Breitkopf & Härtel. Another transcription album is a selection of Nocturnes and others solo piano works published by Edition Peters.

Works with Opus number

  • No. 1, Sonntag Morgen (Sunday Morning)
  • No. 2, Am Springbrunnen (At the Fountain)
  • No. 3, An der Wiege
  • No. 4, Abenddämmerung

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