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Tchaikovsky’s opera, Merchant of Venice? Yes, there is one…

David Pountney has been announcing his farewell summer at the Bregenz Festival. Among the fascinating premieres is a Merchant of Venice opera by Tchaikovsky.

Not Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Not even Boris Tchaikovsky, the highly engaging 20th cetury symphonist.

This opera is by Andre Tchaikovsky. Remember Andre? He was a Polish refugee living under an assumed name in London. When he died in 1982, he left his skull to the National Theatre for use in productions of Hamlet.

I have only ever heard his chamber music, but I felt a strong affinity for him because his mother, murdered in Treblinka, shared a family name with the hero of my novel, The Song of Names.

Here’s David Pountney, espousing his enthusiasm for this almost-forgotten composer.

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  1. I was very interested to learn of Andre Tchaikovsky’s Merchant. The play has had a very bad press – accusations of anti-semitism – because of the uncomplimentary if splendid character of Shylock. There has been considerable speculation that the Venetian Bassano family brought to England by Henry Vlll were Jews. Might a contemporary audience have recognized in Bassan(i)o another type of Jew?

  2. Romuald Sztern says:

    Andre Tchaikovsky came in third In the Brussels competition 1956 where Ashkenazy ,John Browning,A.T; cecile Ousset, Lazar Berman ,Tamas Vasary, Stanislav Knor ( Whom I had the good luck to study with years later ) Peter Frankl and Hans Graf as the other finalists ..An amazing group of talented musicians . Makes one ponder the vagaries of artistic career , so much depending on politics , consistency and most important as in any other human edeavor ; physical health. Always wondered what became of Mr Tchaikovsky . Look forward to hearing his opera. by the way, thank You for publishing this great site that makes it possible to stay ajour.

  3. Interesting thought that your skull is to take the part of a ‘Horsham mad fellow’ like Yorick.

  4. I was lucky enough to be at his final recital at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on 6Dec1981- He died on 26June1982.

    I still have the programme & his autograph.

    I am delighted he is not being forgotten as a Pianist or Composer.

    ps. In all documentation available on the internet AndrĂ©’s surname is spelt with a W not a V.

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