Herman Laroche

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Herman Laroche (1845-1904)

Russian music and literary critic, teacher, and longstanding friend of Tchaikovsky (b. 13/25 May 1845 in Saint Petersburg; d. 6/18 October 1904 in Saint Petersburg), born German Avgustovich Larosh (Герман Августович Ларош).

Laroche was already writing music by the age of ten, and in 1860 he began to study piano with Aleksandr Dubuque. He met Tchaikovsky two years later at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, and the two students became lifelong friends. After graduating from the conservatory in 1866, Laroche, like Tchaikovsky, worked as a professor at the Moscow Conservatory, teaching courses in music history and theory from 1867 to 1870 and 1883 to 1886; for a while he also taught at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory (1872–1875 and 1879).

During the 1870s his attention turned increasingly to music criticism, contributing many articles to newspapers and music journals in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. With some notable exceptions, Tchaikovsky's music was well received by Laroche, and his evaluations were subsequently published in several collected editions.

In May 1875 Laroche's first wife, Anastasya Sushkina (1847–1875) died of consumption, leaving him with two young children — Zinayda (1869–1959), Yevgeny (1870–1940), and Olga (1873–1897). His second marriage, to Aleksandra Ukhtomskaya broke down during the 1880s, causing Laroche to suffer a creative crisis. During this period Tchaikovsky assisted him with his articles (sometimes dictating them himself), and tried to encourage his musical talents as a composer, orchestrating his sketches for an Overture-Fantasia in 1888. The following year, Laroche married for the third and final time — to Yekaterina Sinelnikova.

After the composer's death, Laroche also wrote a number of valuable memoirs concerning his friend, and their student years in particular.

Arrangements of Works by Laroche

Dedications

Tchaikovsky dedicated three of his works to Laroche:

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

17 letters from Tchaikovsky to Herman Laroche have survived, dating from ca.1867 to 1893, of which those highlighted in bold are now available in English translations on this site:

46 letters from Laroche to Tchaikovsky (including one written jointly with Sergey Taneyev) have survived, dating from 1866 to 1890. One of these is preserved in the Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture in Moscow, another in the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in Moscow, and the remaining 44 are in the Klin House-Museum Archive.

Bibliography