BY Advocate.com Editors

April 24 2001 12:00 AM ET


4647
Entertainment News
2001-04-24

Tchaikovsky photo and letter being auctioned





The descendants of Eugene Oudin—Victorian-era singer, photographer, and “inseparable friend” of Tchaikovsky—are auctioning off one of Oudin’s photographs of the composer in Perth, Scotland, according to The Scotsman. The portrait is accompanied by a personal letter penned by Tchaikovsky. Oudin was a singer known for his “exceptionally sweet, light baritone voice,” and it was reported in The Sun of December 17, 1893, that after Oudin’s first appearance in London, “Tchaikovsky’s was among the friendly spirits that greeted him, and in time the two became almost inseparable.” Oudin is thought to have taken the portrait during one of Tchaikovsky’s visits to London. Lt. Col. Richard Spencer, Oudin’s great-grandson, points out, “In those days photography was relatively new, and it was quite a good way to nurture a friendship—take a flattering picture and submit it to your acquaintance.” The friendship was truncated by the composer’s death, officially from cholera, although recent evidence maintains that “he was ‘tried’ by members of his old school regarding his homosexuality and it was decreed he commit suicide.” As a tribute to the composer, Oudin sang the title role in Tchaikovsky’s opera, Eugene Onegin, at the Imperial Opera in St. Petersburg, “to rapturous acclaim” according to Spencer. The remnants of this friendship are expected to fetch £150-£200 at auction, though auctioneer and valuer Lindsay Burns notes, “It only takes a couple of interested rival bidders to push the price up. It will be interesting to see what happens.”



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