Select language:

Tchaikovsky's descendant wants to unite the composers fans around the globe

 /  / Russkiy Mir Foundation / Publications / Tchaikovsky's descendant wants to unite the composers fans around the globe

Tchaikovsky's descendant wants to unite the composers fans around the globe

07.07.2019

Anna Genova

Recently, The Spiritual Path of Tchaikovsky by Galina Sizko was presented to the public in the library of the Russian Center of the Tchaikovsky House in Hamburg. The book was contributed and published by Denis von Meck, a descendant of the families of Tchaikovsky and von Meck, the founder of the NF von Meck Charity Foundation and a collector. The Russkiy Mir asked Denis to share about activities of the foundation established by him, and about his collection.

Denis, what is your relationship toNadezhda Filaretovna von Meck?
I am her great-great-great-grandson on my father's side of the family. I would like to expand the answer a little, with your permission. I’m also Tchaikovskys great-great-great-grandnephew. His beloved sister, Alexandra Ilyinichna, is my direct great-great-great-grandmother, just as Nadezhda Filaretovna. I dont know whether it is required to clarify for the reader that the number of “great” does not relate to familial relationship, but to remoteness in time (in generations). So I mention people who lived in the nineteenth century, and both of these surnames have the same familial relationship to me.


Denis von Meck

Please tell us about activities of your foundation.In which countries do you develop your activity, who do you cooperate with?
I lead an active social life and research activities in the field of history and culture. There are a lot of projects; and International Charitable Foundation named after Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck (or Von Meck Foundation in short) was established to accumulate their funding. Its main activities are education and charity. We have three directions: following the good traditions of Nadezhda Filaretovna, such as support of young talents; popularization of information about work and life of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; and we study and continue Nadezhda Filaretovna childrens legacy comprising of enormous variety of charity and socially active work they conducted.

Following several months of formalities, our foundation received state registration on the very day of Tchaikovskys birthday, which is very symbolic for me. And although we are only at the outset now, we have already been working on contacts in Japan, Argentina, and Germany. As to foreign countries, our main direction is popularization of Tchaikovsky and searching for descendants of the rare émigré branches of the Tchaikovsky - von Meck-Davydov.


N. von Meck and P.I. Tchaikovsky

Recently, The Spiritual Path of Tchaikovsky by Galina Sizko was published. Please tell us, what the book is about, and what role your foundation played in its publication.
May 7th is Pyotr Ilyichs birthday. And on this very day I presented our first publishing project at the Tchaikovsky Museum in Klin. This fascinating book was written by the oldest employee of the museum, who has worked there for 43 years. Galina Stepanovna Sizko is a senior researcher and guidance counselor of the museum, as well as conservatory graduate. Our first publishing project turned out to be very successful. Several events have already been held in museums, libraries, etc. 50% of the copies were sold out in 50 days. In June, I took the book forpresentation to the library of the Tchaikovsky House in Hamburg, to Oldenburg for the annual meeting of the International Tchaikovsky Society (Tschaikowsky Gesellschaft) and to the Russian House in Berlin, where I met many new people with a keen interest. Contacts are needed in many countries, as I plan to translate the book into several languages ​​and make it available worldwide.

Chekhov, who was well acquainted with Tchaikovsky and admired his Eugene Onegin, dedicated the Gloomy People, a collection of short stories, to him. From your point of view, which of Tchaikovskys operas are of the most relevance today?

From story point of view, I like Iolanta. It is the kindest opera about eternal search of relationship with God. I think this topic is always relevant. If I'm not mistaken, such words as God and Lord are used 61 times in the libretto.

Nadezhda Filaretovna supported Tchaikovsky for many years both as a philanthropist, and as a friend. According to your family, why was this link broken?

This is a very frequent question. Nowadays there are so many answers, opinions and insinuations, unfortunately, even forgeries are known. I recorded a very detailed video about it, and also published a part of the memoirs of people who had personally and closely known both parties on myhistorical website. I am also now in the process of reissuingAs I Remember Them, a book by Galina Nikolaevna von Meck, which was published under the same title in London in 1973. Our family published it in Russian in 1999. The new edition of this year will be released in the fall with a great variety of new high-quality illustrations, diagrams, documents. There is the answer to your question there.

We know that Tchaikovsky was a globally minded person - he lived abroad for a long time and probably absorbed local cultural life, but at the same time his music is always recognizably Russian. What do you think is the secret?

The Spiritual Path of Tchaikovsky has the answer starting with his children's poems, the memoirs of his French governess, and a lot of his phrases about love of everything Russian. For example, in his correspondence with Nadezhda Filaretovna he wrote from Switzerland: ... I grew up in the depths of the country; from my earliest childhood, I appreciated the inexplicable beauty of intrinsic features of Russian folk music; so I passionately love the Russian feature in all its manifestations; and, basically, I am Russian in the fullest sense of this word ... " (Clarens, March 5-17, 1878).

You are well known as a collector, for sure your passion has touched the memorabilia associated with Tchaikovsky.

Yes, of course, and among the coins and medals with the image of Tchaikovsky, I will show a photo of one of them with a inscription on its reverse side:

I passionately love a Russian person, Russian language, Russian mentality, beauty of Russian features, Russian customs.



The collection is large-scale and high-profile one; it includes rare and even the rarest items of pre-revolutionary, Soviet and modern ages. Even the most competent catalogs do not have images of some of them. Few people can assume that there are coins among them, that is, state monetary units of such countries as China, North Korea, Laos, Turkey ... What a glory Peter Ilyich has, doesnt he?!


Do you know more or less howmany Tchaikovsky fan clubs are there roughly in the world? Do you keep in touch with some of them?

I have a serious limitation - except Russian, I speak only English. Therefore the search is complicated in many cases. Now founders for a similar society are being selected in Japan. I have already mentioned Germany. As to other countries, I am still enquiring. There are several individuals who are translating correspondence between Nadezhda Filaretovna and Pyotr Ilyich into European languages. But as far as I know, each of them is translating 200-400 letters, but full correspondence consists of more than 1,200 ones. So there are plans to raise funds and translate the full correspondence. There are numerous groups on Facebook pages, there are websites, but I havent been able to reach all of them yet. I am looking for the like-minded people in different countries you are welcome to join!


Please tell us about the nearest plans related to promotion of Russian culture abroad.

We are only at the outset now. As I previously mentioned, we have been working in three countries so far, however, our plans include China, the USA, Italy, Korea, France, Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. I am open to any geographic offers and contacts! In the nearest future we plan to discuss and get a dedicated and out-of-competition award named after Nadezhda Filaretovna approved by the organizers of established and existing contests. Eventually, I believe, we will organize our own contest for young performers.

New publications

Igor Egorov is an ordinary school teacher from the Science Town of Pushchino near Moscow. For many years he has been spending his holidays traveling around Europe, where he searches for the graves of Russian white emigrants and for information about forgotten figures of Russian emigre communities. Anush, his wife and faithful assistant, is always by his side. The teacher actively engages his students in the search.
How do you rise to fame and become a popular blogger with 300,000 subscribers when you are a bit over 70? Arno Pavel, an Estonian pensioner, has found his recipe for success. At 72, he drove his UAZ from Tallinn to Vladivostok and back. Impressions from such a trip would have been enough for any person for a lifetime. But Arno did not stop there: over the past three years he has visited Petrozavodsk, Arkhangelsk, Syktyvkar, Orenburg, Astrakhan, Elista, Grozny and even the Kola Peninsula. He also wrote a book about his trips to Russia and plans to write another one.
This year marks the 130th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Zworykin, a famous Russian inventor and the pioneer of television technology. His name was unknown for a long time in Russia. Meanwhile, in the United States, where the inventor lived most of his life, at some point he was under supervision, as the FBI suspected him to be a Russian spy.
The Russian village of Aleksandrovka, an amazing corner of Russian history, has been preserved in one of the districts of Potsdam. The Alexander Nevsky Memorial Church, the oldest surviving Orthodox church in Germany, is located on a mountain nearby. The history behind this village is, first of all, the story of friendship between two royal persons - Frederick William III of Prussia and Alexander I of Russia. Andrei Chernodarov, a historian and cultural expert, told the Russkiy Mir on how this unusual monument came to existence and how it has been preserved.
William Brumfield, a researcher of Russian architecture and Professor of the Tulane University (New Orleans), has travelled thousands of kilometers along passable and impassable roads of the Russian North. Architecture at the End of the Earth, his book published in the USA in 2015, became quite an event in the scientific community. Russian edition of Towards the White Sea has been published this year.
International Puppet Theatre Festival Ryazanskie Smotriny (Showing-off in Ryazan), one of the largest and the most reputable festivals in Russia and whole Eastern Europe, will open in Sergei Yesenins home land on September 14th. Current show marks a milestone, not by its number, but by years: the Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary, and Petrushka, its symbol, shines out of posters like never before. According to the puppet masters, during years of the festivals existence the genre of puppet show has experienced absolute slump and unbelievable upswing. And it is still on the rise.
The Shtandart, a historical frigate built based on drawings designed 300 years ago, celebrated its 20th anniversary. It is the replica of the first naval frigate built by Peter the Great in Baltics in 1703. The replica frigate was put afloat with all the honors and celebrations in September 1999. The ceremony was held on Orlovskaya embankment, St. Petersburg, in presence of more than 40 thousand people. Over the 20-year period the Shtandart has traveled 167 thousand nautical miles, visited 127 ports in 17 countries; it has been featured in a dozen films and dressed up in scarlet sails for the famous Alumni Festival held in St. Petersburg.
Vladimir Menshov, the maker of such iconic movies as Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears and Love and Dove, turns 80 on September 17. His life is an example of a remarkably successful creative and personal destiny. It's no coincidence that this year 900 people attempted to win admission to his workshop at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (aka VGIK), while enrolment is set to 30. Menshov is known as a very principled person; and he teaches his students the same thing - only a powerful person can create a truly serious film.