Vladimir L'vovich Davydov|
(December 2/14, 1871 - December 14/27, 1906) Russia
Vladimir Davidov, or "Bob" as he was known to his family, was born at Kamenka (Kiev Region), Ukraine. He was the second son of Lev Davydov and the composer's sister Aleksandra.
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.
From his earliest years Vladimir presented an aptitude for music and drawing, which his uncle attempted to encourage. However, after studying at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in Saint Petersburg, he then opted for a military career.
Bob was Tchaikovsky's favourite nephew, and he dedicated to him the Children's Album for piano, Op. 39 (1878) and his Symphony No. 6 ("Pathétique"), Op. 74 (1893).
Under the terms of his uncle's will, Vladimir inherited all the royalties from the composer's works, which he used to help establish the Tchaikovsky House-Museum at Klin, with assistance from Modest Tchaikovsky and Aleksei Sofronov.
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.
Bob is buried at the Dem'ianovo Cemetery in the town.
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."