Partner Christian Bérard, Wladimir Augenblick, buried together
Père Lachaise Cemetery, 16 Rue du Repos, 75020 Paris, Francia
Boris Evgenievich Kochno or Kokhno (3 January 1904 – 8 December 1990) was a Russian poet, dancer and librettist. In Cole Porter (1981), by William McBrien, never-before-seen letters shine light into Cole Porter's ongoing relationships with Ballets Russes star Boris Kochno, architect Ed Tauch, choreographer Nelson Barclift, director John Wilson, and longtime friend Ray Kelly -- whose children still receive half of the childless Porter's copyrights.
He was born in Moscow, Russia, on 3 January 1904. His father served as a colonel in the hussars. He studied at the Imperial Lycee in Moscow before emigrating to Paris in 1920. Karol Szymanowski’s time in the dreary surroundings of Elizavetgrad had been temporarily enlivened by the arrival of a beautiful, teenage refugee from Russia, Boris Kochno. They had a brief affair before the composer managed to get him safely out of the Ukraine to Warsaw. The affair, although fleeting, had a profound effect on the composer’s life, irrevocably confirming his homosexuality and helping him to come out in a mood of positive self-belief, at least when abroad. (Elizavetgrad was another matter.) Not until he visited Paris, late in 1920, did Szymanowski discover what had happened to the boy. He had found his way to Paris and was now the secretary and lover of Sergei Diaghilev.
He was close with Karol Szymanowski, who gave him as a gift a Russian translation of the chapter The Symposium from his unpublished novel Efebos. Szymanowski also dedicated four poems to him. In 1920 he became Sergei Diaghilev's secretary, librettist, and eventually main collaborator. They were also briefly lovers. Kochno wrote the libretto of Stravinsky's Mavra (1921), George Auric's Les Fâcheux (1924), Henri Sauguet's La Chatte (1927), and of Sergei Prokofiev's ballet score The Prodigal Son (1929). In 1925, he had an affair with Cole Porter, with whom he carried on a lengthy correspondence.
Upon Diaghilev's death, Kochno and Serge Lifar tried but failed to hold the Ballets Russes together. The two inherited part of Diaghilev's archives and collections, which Kochno completed and part of which was acquired by the Bibliothèque nationale de France. In 1933 he co-founded, together with George Balanchine, the short-lived but history-making company Les Ballets 1933, which made its debut that summer at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. That same year, he and Edward James commissioned Brecht and Weill's last collaboration, The Seven Deadly Sins, which Balanchine produced, directed, and choreographed.
At the end of World War II, Kochno entered into a partnership with Roland Petit, with whom he founded the Ballets des Champs-Élysées.
His later career included a position as ballet director with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where he became an influential figure in post-World War II French ballet.
Kochno authored several works, including Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, a record of the Diaghilev era, and Christian Bérard, a scrapbook of artwork by Bérard, Kochno's former lover and collaborator, along with reminiscences.
He died on 8 December 1990 in Paris following a fall. He was buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, next to Wladimir Augenblick (1911–2001).
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