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Tchaikovsky (1970)

Not Rated | | Biography, Drama | January 1972 (USA)
The life and work of Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tschaikovsky is shown through his relationship with aristocratic art connoisseur Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck.


Igor Talankin
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy ... Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Chaikovsky)
Antonina Shuranova ... Natalia von Meck
Kirill Lavrov ... Pahulsky
Vladislav Strzhelchik ... Nicholas Rubinstein
Evgeniy Leonov ... Aliosha
Maya Plisetskaya ... Desire
Bruno Frejndlikh ... Turgenev
Alla Demidova ... Yulia von Meck
Evgeniy Evstigneev ... Laroche
Liliya Yudina Liliya Yudina ... Milyukova
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Laurence Harvey ... Narrator
Ervin Knausmyuller ... Butler


The life and work of Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tschaikovsky is shown through his relationship with aristocratic art connoisseur Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Official submission of Soviet Union for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 44th Academy Awards in 1971. See more »


Version of Heavenly Music (1943) See more »

User Reviews

A great effort to set Tchaikovky's inner life on the screen
25 November 2020 | by clanciaiSee all my reviews

There has been many complaints and objections against this film, but they are of no consequence, since all betray one and the same thing: they haven't understood that this is exclusively a film about music and a musician. Although there is a story, it is not told straight but rather hinted at all the way, while the main body of the film is the composer's dreams, his fancies, his hallucinations sometimes but above all his moods. This is a film of moods and an admirable attempt to set moods to music with the use of film sequences to illustrate them and put them into life and colour. Innokenti Smoktunovsky makes a great performance although it is not quite convincing, since he is too good-looking, while Tchaikovsky in reality suffered from aging too quick and too soon - at the age of 53, when he died, he was still a young man, but he looked at least twenty years older. He grew white very early, and this enforced aging process by nature has been much discussed and never been quite understood, but since he was a highly oversensitive and overstrung nature, he most probably just consumed himself too fast, mainly by nervous worrying and stress. His sponsor Mrs Meck is played by Antonina Shuranova more convincingly, and one of the great credits of the film is bringing her fully to life. There is a brief but splendid guest appearance by Maya Plisetskaya, one of Russia's many major ballerinas, Ivan Turgenev also appears in Paris, as does Nicolai Rubinstein in an important part, while Tchaikovsky's wife (in a short and failed marriage) only appears casually in the first part, that ends with his (probably) attempted suicide, just like Robert Schumann, with whom Tchaikovsky felt closely spiritually related - they both made music to Lord Byron's "Manfred", one of Tchaikovsky's most remarkable and greatest symphonies, bypassed here. The main interest of the film, although beautiful and wonderfully photographed all the way, bringing all the loveliest sides of 19th century Russia to life, is the way Dimitri Tiomkin has treated Tchaikovsky's music. Tiomkin, originally Russian, was one of the very best composers of Hollywood, if not the very best one, and he really put his soul into this job of suiting Tchaikovsky's music to a film made as a tribute to Russia's greatest and probably eternally most loved composer. His tempos are rather fast, but that's the way of film music - it's a common trait that film music always has to run too fast. Perhaps the very finest sequence is that of the "Waltz of the Flowers", the only piece in the film played in full, before the final elegy. The one character you really miss in the film is Modest, Tchaikovsky's brother, who survived him many years and his chief collaborator in opera librettos, above all of "The Queen of Spades". One of the highlights of the film is how the film makers put Mrs Meck's abandonment of Tchaikovsky in relation with the old duchess in the opera - her great dying soliloquy follows directly on Mrs Meck's final disconnection. No one was closer to Tchaikovsky than his brother Modest and, second, Mrs Meck, although they never met, while the film interestingly suggests some telepathic connection between them. In brief, as a Russian tribute to Tchaikovsky it is wholly successful and worthy as such, although probably Tchaikovsky himself in his modesty would have objected against this next to apotheosis of him.

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Soviet Union



Release Date:

January 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tchaikovsky See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mosfilm See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Mono (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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