Davïdov, Karl Yul′yevich
- Gerald Abraham
(b Goldingen, Courland [now Kuldīga, Latvia], 3/March 15, 1838; d Moscow, 14/Feb 26, 1889). Russian cellist, composer and administrator. The son of a Jewish doctor and amateur violinist (Davidhoff), he studied mathematics at Moscow University, graduating in June 1858. He then went to Leipzig to study composition with Moritz Hauptmann. Moscheles and Ferdinand David happened to hear him play, and he was invited to perform his own B minor Concerto with the Gewandhaus Orchestra on 15 December. In the following year he succeeded Friedrich Grützmacher as principal cellist of the orchestra and cello professor at the conservatory; against his will, he was obliged to recognize his vocation as a cellist rather than as a composer. Despite his notorious distaste for intensive practising he was soon acclaimed as one of the greatest players of his day, superb as a soloist, perhaps even finer in chamber music....