Czech conductor and composer (b. 24 August 1839 in Býšť, near Hradec Králové; d. 23 November 1916 in Petrograd), known in Russia as Eduard Frantsevich Nápravník (Эдвард Францевич Направник).
The son of a Czech village schoolmaster, as a child Nápravník played the organ at Pardubice Cathedral. In 1854 he enrolled at the Prague Organ School, and later studied and taught at the Maydl Institute (1856–1861), taking lessons from Johann Friedrich Kittl (1906–1868), director of the Prague Conservatory.
In 1861 Nápravník emigrated to Russia, where he worked as conductor of an amateur orchestra, as well as teaching the piano and performing in chamber concerts. In 1863 he was appointed assistant to Konstantin Lyadov at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, and became principal conductor after Lyadov's retirement six years later. Five of Tchaikovsky's operas were premiered under Nápravník's direction at the Mariinsky Theatre: The Oprichnik (1874), Vakula the Smith (1876), The Maid of Orleans (1881), The Queen of Spades (1890) and Iolanta (1892). The Maid of Orleans was dedicated to Nápravník, who also gave the first performances of many of the conductor's other works in the Russian Musical Society concerts in Saint Petersburg, where he was principal conductor from 1869 to 1881.
The composer thought very highly of Nápravník's talents, and the conductor's wife Olga (1839–1916) and children Vladimir (1869–1948), Olga (1870–1920) and Varvara (1873–1942) were also counted among Tchaikovsky's friends. The composer's brother Modest also wrote the libretto to Nápravník's opera Dubrovsky (1894).
He retired from the Mariinsky Theatre in 1914, after serving more than half a century of conducting at the Imperial Theatres.
Tchaikovsky's works dedicated to Eduard Nápravník:
Tchaikovsky's correspondence with Eduard Nápravník:
This page was last updated on 14 February 2013