Out now: the new Russian version of Tchaikovsky’s death

Out now: the new Russian version of Tchaikovsky’s death


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2015

Valery Sokolov, a contributor to the forthcoming state-inspired Tchaikovsky Encyclopedia, has written an intensive survey of the evidence, old and new, surrounding the circumstances of the composer’s death.

The article calls on recent research from both east and west and gives full account of the suicide theory, before discrediting it. Sokolov’s conclusion remains cholera-induced kidney failure.

Read the article here. If any reader would care to make an English summary, it would be widely appreciated.

tchaikovsky death mask




  • Robert Holmén says:

    The Google translate version is awkward but comprehensible.

    He dismisses intentional self-poisoning on the basis that a poison to create the witnessed symptoms didn’t exist.

    He permits the remote possibility of “deliberate self-infection” but regards it as most unlikely given Tchaikovsky’s recent successes and numerous plans for the immediate future.

    One of his threads is that misleading information resulted from several people misstating their involvement with the event and/or portraying it as more suffering-artist-tragedy than it really was.

    • Malcolm James says:

      People who commit suicide are not thinking rationally and research has shown that they make the decision no more than 2 minutes before doing it. Pretty well everyone knows, or knows of, someone who’s killed themselves leaving everyone stunned and thinking ‘I can’t believe they did that. They had so much to live for’.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Indeed… and Tchaikovski lived all the time at the edge of discovery of his ‘double life’, being a celebrity, and was prone to depression and very nervous reactions. The forced optimism combined with black nihilism in his 6th seems to be an apt description of his state of mind.

        • Hilary says:

          We can’t be sure anymore of his double life as one writer has questioned our assumption that Tchaikovsky was gay.

      • Robert Hairgrove says:

        @Malcolm James: Do you have a link or reference to that research? Because I had a colleague once who had obviously planned his suicide months in advance. Of course, everyone was stunned when he actually carried it out. No way that was a two-minute decision. The pilot of the recent Germanwings catastrophe had planned his suicide/mass murder well in advance, according to reports.