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Volkovo Cemetery, Rasstannyy Proyezd, 3, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 192007

Image result for "Sergey Donaurov"Sergey Ivanovich Donaurov (November 14, 1838 - March 22, 1897) was an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, composer and author of many popular romances; he translated some of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's romances into French. He is the author of the French original words of the famous romance "A Couple of Hosts".

"My first translator, M[onsieu]r Donaurov [3], came in for a lot of criticism from those who claimed that what he had produced wasn't French enough. That may be true up to a certain point, but can one compare his translations, which always convey very well the sense of the original, which always use rhymes where that is absolutely essential, which never alter the melody in order to make things easier (as Monsieur Collin does), which always have the musical accent corresponding to the accent of the verse—can one, I say, compare his translations with those of Monsieur Collin, who comes up with impossible accents, who does not use rhymes where they are essential, and who very often takes the liberty of adding quavers and semiquavers in order to make things easier for himself—something that completely spoils the rhythm of the melody! To see that I am right all you have to do is compare the delightful translation of Don Juan's Serenade by M[onsieu]r Benardaky with that by Collin![4] Why, they are as far apart as heaven and earth!" - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Donaurov's romances were very popular in the aristocratic salons of Saint Petersburg for a short while. Tchaikovsky first met him at the house of Nikolay Kondratyev at some point during the second half of the 1860s, but he did not like him very much because of his dilettantish and vain character. Donaurov belonged to the homosexual demi-monde of Saint Petersburg.

Born in St. Petersburg, in a family that belonged to the noble family of the Donaurovs, who had Georgian origin. His father was the chamberlain Ivan Mikhailovich Donaurov (1806 / 07-1849), a famous music lover, the author of several romances. His mother was Princess Natalia Grigorievna Galizine (1816–1874), daughter of G. S. Golitsyna, and pupil of Princess N. S. Golitsyna . His uncle was Peter M. Donaurov, a major statesman, deputy, state controller, senator, civil governor of St. Petersburg [1] .

He was educated at the Corps of Pages. After graduating from the corps he entered the diplomatic service. He worked in the central office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an attache, then in various positions at the Russian Embassy in Italy. Upon returning from a foreign trip, he went to work at the General Directorate of Press Affairs, in which he served as a censor, then a member of the Board of Management, responsible for checking dramatic works [1] [2] . ItIt is noteworthy that the head of this department at that time was F. I. Tyutchev, on whose verses Donaurov composed a number of musical works. Due to the departmental affiliation of Donaurov, his own work was approved by the censorship very quickly - this happened in 1871 [3] .

He supported wide acquaintances among the Russian creative intelligentsia.

He studied music and poetry in his spare time from the service, not considering them as his main occupation and without giving them serious meaning. In this regard, he was later qualified as "one of the last representatives of musical dilettantism" in Russia. The main musical works of Donaurov were romances, of which he composed at least one hundred - both on his own poems and on poems of famous poets ( M. Yu. Lermontov , F. I. Tyutchev, A. N. Apukhtin , etc.) and on folk words [2] . It is known that he was the author of the very first version of the music for Tyutchev's poem “I met you” and the only composer who composed music for these words during Tyutchev’s life [3] .

Donaurov's romances were regularly published in various poetic and musical almanacs. Many of them have gained wide popularity - in particular, "Quiet on the road", "Separation", "Only it will be getting a little dark." The critics note the sentimental character of Donauro's works, their stylistic closeness to the Russian urban lyric song and everyday romance, the unpretentiousness of his own poetic texts [1] [2] .

He was also the author of at least two operettas staged at the Imperial Theaters - "Christopher Columbus" and "Journey to the Moon", whose scores have not been preserved [2] .

It is noteworthy that the most famous work of Donaurov in our time is the poem written in French “Poor Horses” ( fr. Pauvres chevaux ), which was later translated into Russian by A. N. Apukhtin under the name “Pair of bears” and in a musical treatment by I. F. Prigogine, and which has become one of the most popular Russian romances [5] .


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  1. Tchaikovsky Papers: Unlocking the Family Archive by Polina E. Vaidman Yale University Press, Apr 24, 2018 - Literary Collections - 256 pages
  2. http://en.tchaikovsky-research.net/pages/Letter_3690
  3. https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%94%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%83%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2,_%D0%A1%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B3%D0%B5%D0%B9_%D0%98%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87