Vera Butakova

Tchaikovsky Research
Vera Butakova (1843–1923)

Sister-in-law of the composer (b. 1843; d. 1923), born Vera Vasilyevna Davydova (Вера Васильевна Давыдова); known after her marriage as Vera Vasilyevna Butakova (Вера Васильевна Бутакова).

Vera was the sister of Tchaikovsky's brother-in-law Lev Davydov, and she became attached to Tchaikovsky during a family holiday at Hapsal [now Haapsalu] in Estonia in 1867. The composer dedicated the cycle of piano pieces he was writing at the time — Souvenir de Hapsal, Op. 2 — to Vera.

Although it appears that Vera had romantic feelings for Tchaikovsky during the late 1860s, these were not reciprocated, and in 1871 she married a much older man — Vice-Admiral Ivan Ivanovich Butakov (1822–1882), commander of the Russian Mediterranean fleet, and they had four sons — Grigory (1873–1960); Ivan (1874–1879); Stepan (1879–1927); and Aleksandr (1882–1914).


Tchaikovsky dedicated two of his compositions to Vera Butakova:

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

Although no letters from the composer to Vera Butakova have known to have survived, 5 letters from Vera to Tchaikovsky, dating from around 1886 to 1893, are preserved in the Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve at Klin (a4, Nos. 361–365).