Eduard Nápravník

Tchaikovsky Research
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Eduard Nápravník

Czech conductor and composer (b. 24 August 1839 [N.S.] in Býšť, near Hradec Králové; d. 10/23 November 1916 in Petrograd), known in Russia as Eduard Frantsevich Nápravník (Эдуард Францевич Направник).

The son of a Czech village schoolmaster, as a child Nápravník played the organ at Pardubice Cathedral. In 1854, he enrolled at the Prague Organ School, and later studied and taught at the Maydl Institute (1856–1861), taking lessons from Johann Friedrich Kittl (1806–1868), director of the Prague Conservatory.

In 1861 Nápravník emigrated to Russia, where he worked as conductor of an amateur orchestra, as well as teaching the piano and performing in chamber concerts. In 1863, he was appointed assistant to Konstantin Lyadov at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, and became principal conductor after Lyadov's retirement six years later.

Tchaikovsky and Nápravník

Five of Tchaikovsky's operas were premiered under Nápravník's direction at the Mariinsky Theatre: The Oprichnik (1874), Vakula the Smith (1876), The Maid of Orleans (1881), The Queen of Spades (1890) and Iolanta (1892). The Maid of Orleans was dedicated to Nápravník, who also gave the first performances of many of the composer's other works in the Russian Musical Society concerts in Saint Petersburg, where he was principal conductor from 1869 to 1881.

The composer thought very highly of Nápravník's talents, and the conductor's wife Olga (1844–1902), and their children Aleksandr ("Sasha") (1866-1939), Vladimir ("Volodya") (1869–1948), Olga (1870–1920), Varvara (1873–1942), and Konstantin (1874-1911). The composer's brother Modest also wrote the libretto to Nápravník's opera Dubrovsky (1894).

He retired from the Mariinsky Theatre in 1914, after serving more than half a century of conducting at the Imperial Theatres.


Tchaikovsky dedicated his opera The Maid of Orleans, TH 6 (1878–79), to Eduard Nápravník.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

85 letters from Tchaikovsky to Eduard Nápravník have survived, dating from 1872 to 1893, of which those highlighted in bold have been translated into English on this website:

44 letters from Nápravník to Tchaikovsky have survived, dating from 1873 to 1893, of which one is preserved in the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in Moscow, and the remaining 43 are in the Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve at Klin (a4, Nos. 3050–3092).


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