Vladimir Nikolaevich Davydov

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Davydov, Vladimir Nikolaevich


(pseudonym of Ivan Nikolaevich Gorelov). Born Jan. 7 (19), 1849, in Novomirgorod; died June 23, 1925, in Moscow. Russian actor. People’s Artist of the Republic (1922).

Davydov was born into a noble family of modest means. He took drama lessons from I. V. Samarin, a famous actor of the Malyi Theater. From 1867 to 1880 he acted in the provinces (Orel, Voronezh, Tambov, and other cities). From 1880 to 1924 he was in the troupe of the St. Petersburg Alek-sandrinskii Theater. Davydov had masterly command of the means of external expressiveness. His brilliant technique in transforming himself into the character coupled with his ability to make the character seem true to life enabled Davydov to appear in roles in comedy, tragedy, and musical comedy. (He even played female roles.) His greatest achievements were linked to the Russian classics. Among his best roles were Famusov in Griboedov’s Woe From Wit; Khlynov, Bal’zaminov, Podkhaliuzin, and Karkunov in Ostrovskii’s A Fiery Heart, A Festive Dream Before Dinner, It’s a Family Affair, We’ll Settle It Among Ourselves, and The Heart Is Not a Stone; Raspliuev in Sukhovo-Kobylin’s Krechinskii’s Wedding; Akim and Mitrich in Tolstoy’s The Power of Darkness; and Moshkin and Kuzovkin in Turgenev’s The Bachelor and The Family Charge. Through his ability to lay bare the inner world of his characters and reveal the complex changes in human psychology, Davydov became a talented interpreter of the dramas of A. P. Chekhov. (He played the roles of Ivanov in Ivanov, Firs in The Cherry Orchard, and Chebutykin in The Three Sisters.)

A man of broad culture, Davydov studied literature and painting when preparing for his roles. He was an outstanding theatrical pedagogue and the creative mentor of many great actors. He began his teaching activities in 1883 and taught in the St. Petersburg Theater School. Among his students were V. F. Komissarzhevskaia, N. N. Khodotov, L. S. Viv’en, and K. A. Zubov.


Rasskaz o proshlom. Leningrad-Moscow, 1962.
“Pis’ma V. N. Davydova.” In the collection Teatral’noe nasledstvo. Moscow, 1956.


Brianskii, A. V. N. Davydov, 1849–1925: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Leningrad-Moscow, 1939.
Viv’en, L. S. “V. N. Davydov i ego shkola.” In Zapiski o teatre. Leningrad-Moscow, 1958.
Maliutin, Ia. O. Aktery moego pokoleniia. Leningrad, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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