KARL DAVÏDOV (1838 - 1889)
Karl Yul’evich Davïdov (sometimes spelt as ‘Davidoff’ or ‘Davydov’) was one of the top cellists of the 19th century. Tchaikovsky called him ‘the tsar of all cellists’. In 1858, the year Davïdov graduated with distinction with a degree in Physics and Mathematics from the Moscow University, he was already an excellent cellist, a good piano player and also a composer. The interest in the latter brought Davïdov to the Leipzig Conservatoire, which at the time was considered the top music school in Europe. While still a student of musical composition and theory, Davïdov was discovered at one of the musical salons as a cellist extraordinaire. From that moment on, Davïdov performed at the biggest concert halls in Leipzig and other German cities.
A short time later he was offered the position of first cello at one of the leading European orchestras of the time—the Gewandhaus Orchestra. In 1860 he started his professor’s tenure at the Leipzig Conservatoire. From the time of the foundation of the first Russian Conservatoire in St Petersburg, Davïdov was among its professors, and he later served as its director from 1876 until 1887. The name of Karl Davïdov is connected to the period when the Russian school of cello playing blossomed during the second half of the 19th century, when Russian cellists gained recognition both in Russia and abroad. Davïdov also established himself as an illustrious composer—he wrote numerous pieces for cello, and several concertos for cello and orchestra—greatly enriching the cello repertoire.