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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 7 May 1840Votkinsk, Vyatka Governorate, Russian Empire [now Votkinsk, Udmurt Republic, Russia]
Date of Death 6 November 1893St. Petersburg, Russian Empire [now Russia]  (cholera)

Mini Bio (1)

Pyotr (Peter) Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840, in Votkinsk, Vyatka region, Russia. He was the second of six children (five brothers and one sister). His father, named Ilya Chaikovsky, was a mining business executive in Votkinsk. His father's ancestors were from Ukraine and Poland. His mother, named Aleksandra Assier, was of Russian and French ancestry.

Tchaikovsky played piano since the age of 5, he also enjoyed his mother's playing and singing. He was a sensitive and emotional child, and became deeply traumatized by the death of his mother of cholera, in 1854. At that time he was sent to a boarding school in St. Petersburg. He graduated from the St. Petersburg School of Law in 1859, then worked for 3 years at the Justice Department of Russian Empire. In 1862-1865 he studied music under Anton Rubinstein at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. In 1866-1878 he was a professor of theory and harmony at the Moscow Conservatory. At that time he met Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz, who visited Russia with concert tours. During that period Tchaikovsky wrote his first ballet 'The Swan Lake', opera 'Eugene Onegin', four Symphonies, and the brilliant Piano Concerto No1.

As a young man Tchaikovsky suffered traumatic personal experiences. He was sincerely attached to a beautiful soprano, named Desiree Artot, but their engagement was destroyed by her mother and she married another man. His homosexuality was causing him a painful guilt feeling. In 1876 he wrote to his brother, Modest, about his decision to "marry whoever will have me." One of his admirers, a Moscow Conservatory student Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova, was persistently writing him love letters. She threatened to take her life if Tchaikovsky didn't marry her. Their brief marriage in the summer of 1877 lasted only a few weeks and caused him a nervous breakdown. He even made a suicide attempt by throwing himself into a river. In September of 1877 Tchaikovsky separated from Milyukova. She eventually ended up in an insane asylum, where she spent over 20 years and died. They never saw each other again. Although their marriage was terminated legally, Tchaikovsky generously supported her financially until his death.

Tchaikovsky was ordered by the doctors to leave Russia until his emotional health was restored. He went to live in Europe for a few years. Tchaikovsky settled together with his brother, Modest, in a quiet village of Clarens on Lake Geneva in Switzerland and lived there in 1877-1878. There he wrote his very popular Violin Concerto in D. He also completed his Symphony No.4, which was inspired by Russian folk songs, and dedicated it to Nadezhda von Meck. From 1877 to 1890 Tchaikovsky was financially supported by a wealthy widow Nadezhda von Meck, who also supported Claude Debussy. She loved Tchaikovsky's music and became his devoted pen-friend. They exchanged over a thousand letters in 14 years; but they never met, at her insistence. In 1890 she abruptly terminated all communication and support, claiming bankruptcy.

Tchaikovsky played an important role in the artistic development of Sergei Rachmaninoff. They met in 1886, when Rachmaninov was only 13 years old, and studied the music of Tchaikovsky under the tutelage of their mutual friend, composer Aleksandr Zverev. Tchaikovsky was the member of the Moscow conservatory graduation board. He joined many other musicians in recommendation that Rachmaninov was to be awarded the Gold Medal in 1892. Later Tchaikovsky was involved in popularization of Rachmaninov's graduation work, opera 'Aleko'. Upon Tchaikovsky's promotion Rachmaninov's opera "Aleko" was included in the repertory and performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

In 1883-1893 Tchaikovsky wrote his best Symphonies No.5 and No.6, ballets 'The Sleeping Beauty' and 'The Nutcracker', operas 'The Queen of Spades' and 'Iolanta'. In 1888-1889, he made a successful conducting tour of Europe, appearing in Prague, Leipzig, Hamburg, Paris, and London. In 1891, he went on a two month tour of America, where he gave concerts in New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. In May of 1891 Tchaikovsky was the conductor on the official opening night of Carnegie Hall in New York. He was a friend of Edvard Grieg and Antonín Dvorák. In 1892 he heard Gustav Mahler conducting his opera 'Eugene Onegin' in Hamburg. Tchaikovsky himself conducted the premiere of his Symphony No.6 in St. Petersburg, Russia, on the 16th of October, 1893. A week later he died of cholera after having a glass of tap water. He was laid to rest in the Necropolis of Artists at St. Aleksandr Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg, Russia.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (1)

Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova (6 July 1877 - 1877) (annulled)

Trade Mark (4)

Extremely difficult flute orchestral parts (due to his own skill in the instrument)
Generous use of stringed instruments
Colorful orchestration
His music often has a melancholy tone to it

Trivia (15)

Born at 6:40am-LMT
Was supported financially by Nadezhda von Meck, a wealthy widow whom he never met, for 13 years.
Visited the United States in the spring of 1891 and participated in the opening of Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Had actually written an earlier sixth symphony (since reconstructed and published as Symphony #7) in 1891 and became dissatisfied with it; reused some of the material for other works.
Died only days after conducting the premiere of his sixth symphony.
Was thought to have died of cholera as a result of carelessly drinking unboiled water; suicide by poison has also been suggested.
He was paid $2,500 for 6 concerts in 5 days to inaugurate New York City's Carnegie Hall, beginning on 5 May 1891. The Hall had been under construction for 7 years.
Is the great-great-greatUncle of John D. Schalcosky
Idolised composer Robert Schumann, but shared an enmity with Johannes Brahms, his contemporary rival.
Was equally talented in playing the flute, piano, and conducting.
He is probably the most famous and beloved Russian composer to have ever lived.
During his lifetime most of his works were far more successful in other countries than they were in Russia. His 1891 visit to the U.S. was wildly successful, and during it he participated in the opening and inaugural concert at New York City's Carnegie Hall.
His best known compositions--among them the "1812 Overture", the "Capriccio Italien", the "Piano Concerto No.1", the ballets "The Nutcracker", "Swan Lake" and "The Sleeping Beauty", the "Slavic March", the "Romeo and Juliet" Fantasy-Overture, and the "Pathetique" Symphony--are probably more recognizable to the average concertgoer than any other classical pieces of music except for the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the final section from Gioachino Rossini's "William Tell Overture" (the so-called "Lone Ranger" theme).
His ballet "The Nutcracker", now his most beloved composition, was not a critical success in Russia when first staged in 1892. Perhaps anticipating this, he had already premiered "The Nutcracker Suite", a 20-minute selection of eight numbers from the ballet, in advance of the ballet's opening. The suite became enormously popular in Russia as well as throughout the world, recorded by virtually every conductor who ever became famous, and for years it eclipsed the popularity and acceptance of the complete ballet. For this reason, the complete work is sometimes mistakenly called "The Nutcracker Suite", rather than "The Nutcracker", its correct title. In 1944 the entire work was staged in the U.S. for the first time, but only in San Francisco. In 1954, however, choreographer George Balanchine staged the complete work in New York City. That same year the entire work was recorded for the first time, in mono. It was soon re-recorded in stereo. In 1957 it was first presented on television in heavily abridged form, and then in 1958 in a more complete production. Finally, beginning in 1965, the complete "Nutcracker" began to be performed in other cities throughout the U.S. It has been recorded complete and presented on television many times since then, and is now one of the great American Christmas traditions.
Tchaikovsky's birth date is usually given as May 7, but this is only if one follows the New Style Russian calendar. He was actually born on April 25, 1840.

Personal Quotes (2)

I am a Russian through and through.
[during his 1891 visit to the U.S.] I am convinced I am ten times more famous in America than at home.

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