Rothschild's Violin

"Rothschild's Violin" (Russian: Скрипка Ротшильда, romanizedSkripka Rotshilda – also translated as "Rothschild's Fiddle") is a short story by Anton Chekhov.


"Rothschild's Violin" was first published in Russkiye Vedomosti Number 37, in February 1894. In the same year it was published in a collection of stories.[1]

After the idea was proposed to him by Dmitri Shostakovich,[2] "Rothschild's Violin" was made into an opera by Veniamin Fleishman.


Yakov Ivanov (nicknamed "Bronze") is a seventy-year-old coffin maker in a small village, where there are not enough deaths for his business to flourish. To make ends meet, he plays the violin for a Jewish klezmer orchestra when called upon by its director Moisey Shahkes. Yakov dislikes Jews, especially the flutist in the orchestra named Rothschild.

Yakov's wife Marfa becomes ill. Her illness makes him regret his flippant conduct, his coldness and indifference towards her. On the eve of her death, she reminds him of their shared past, but Yakov does not remember. He starts to build her coffin before she dies. Yakov eventually succumbs to illness as well. After grieving for his wife, and then facing his own mortality; Yakov's attitude changes. He eventually gives his violin to Rothschild before dying.


  1. ^ Chekhov, Anton (1974–1982). Collected works in 30 volumes, Volume 8 (in Russian). Moscow: Nauka. pp. 297–305. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  2. ^ Bartlett, Rosamund (2000). Shostakovich in Context. Oxford University Press. p. 206. ISBN 0198166664.

Further readingEdit

  • Livak, Leonid. The Jewish Persona in the European Imagination: A Case of Russian Literature. Stanford University Press, 2010.
  • Rosenshield, Gary (October 1997). "Dostoevskii's 'The Funeral of the Universal Man' and 'An Isolated Case' and Chekhov's 'Rothschild's Fiddle': The Jewish Question". Russian Review. 56 (4): 487–504. doi:10.2307/131561.

External linksEdit