Nikolay Konradi

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Nikolay Konradi (1868-1922)
(centre) with the composer, Modest Tchaikovsky, and his governess Sofya Yershova, at Montpellier in July 1876

Pupil of the composer's brother Modest Tchaikovsky (b. 1868; d. 1922); born Nikolay Germanovich Konradi (Николай Германович Конради).

Nikolay was born without the ability to hear or speak, and in 1876 his parents (Herman and Alina) engaged the composer's brother Modest as tutor to the eight-year-old boy. Modest had mastered a system called "sonic speech" devised by J. Gugentobler, that was designed to help communication with deaf-mute children. Under Modest's guidance, Nikolay learned to talk, write and read in three languages, and was educated to graduate level. After the divorce of Nikolay's parents in 1881, and the death of his father the following year, permanent guardianship of Nikolay was granted to Modest Tchaikovsky in 1882.

After 1876 the composer often stayed with Modest at the Konradis' estate at Grankino, and was very fond of Nikolay, whom he called "Kolya". However, as Nikolay grew older he quarrelled more frequently with Modest, especially over financial matters, and the composer often found himself acting in the role of peacemaker between the two men.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

53 letters from Tchaikovsky to Nikolay Konradi have survived, dating from 1876 to 1893, of which those highlighted in bold are now available in English translations on this website:

51 letters from Nikolay Konradi to the composer are preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive.