Karl Albrecht

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Karl Albrecht (1836-1893)

Cellist and teacher (b. 4 October 1836 in Elberfeld, Prussia; d. 14/26 June 1893 in Moscow), known in Russia as Konstantin Karlovich Albrekht (Константин Карлович Альбрехт).

Karl was the son of the German conductor and composer Karl Albrecht (1807–1863), and older brother to Eugen Albrecht (1842–1894). In 1838 the Albrecht family moved from Düsseldorf to Saint Petersburg, where they became naturalised Russian citizens. Karl's father conducted the première of Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila at the Saint Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre in 1842.

The younger Karl followed in his father's musical footsteps, and became a cellist with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1854. Here he worked with Nikolay Rubinstein to help found the Moscow branch of the Russian Musical Society in 1860, becoming a teacher in the society's music classes. After the opening of the Moscow Conservatory in 1866, Albrecht was appointed as supervisor and instructor in choral singing and elementary theory, a position he held until 1889. It was at the Conservatory that Tchaikovsky and Albrecht first met as fellow tutors, and the two men remained good friends for the rest of their lives.

In 1878 Albrecht also helped to found the Russian Choral Society in Moscow, and while working at the Conservatory he also produced a Manual of Choral Singing after the Numerical Method of Chevé (Руководство к хоровому пению по цифирной методе Шеве) and Collections of Choral Pieces for Single and Mixed Voices (Сборники хоровых пьес, для однородных и смешанных голосов), to which Tchaikovsky contributed the choruses. Spring, Evening, and Blessed is He Who Smiles. Albrecht also compiled and published catalogues of selected works by Beethoven, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, and Glinka.

Tchaikovsky's letters show that he thought highly of Albrecht's musical abilities, and regretted that the latter had chosen not to develop them further.

Tchaikovsky's Works Dedicated to Karl Albrecht

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

100 letters from Tchaikovsky to Karl Albrecht have survived, dating from 1869 to 1892, of which those highlighted in bold are now available in English translation on this site:

27 letters from Albrecht to Tchaikovsky are also known, dating from 1877 to 1892 (of which 26 are currently preserved in the Klin House-Museum Archive, and one in the Glinka National Museum Consortium of Musical Culture in Moscow).

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