World Famed Russian Composer Tchaikovsky

Born on April 25 1840, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky really needs no introduction. The works of this fabulous Russian composer are still played at numerous concerts around the world and even though he was not from an English-speaking country, his compositions are well known world-wide for their rich Russian flair and stirring melodies. He effectively combined both Russian and western influences to create brilliant, timeless masterpieces in the Romantic era. Even if you do not recognize the names, you can be sure that you will recognize the sounds of the beautiful 'Swan Lake' or 'The Nutcracker' ballets. You will also likely recognize many of his symphonies which continue to resound in music halls around the world.

Tchaikovsky was born in the small town of Votkinsk, the second son of his father’s third wife. His father was a mining engineer and his mother was of French decent. He started taking piano lessons at the age of five and within only a few months could play complicated musical compositions. He was later able to further his piano instruction as well as his general education at the School of Jurisprudence where he made friends with the Italian mater Luigi Piccioli. Piccioli proved to be a big influence in his life, directing Tchaikovsky’s attention from German music to that of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. Some time later his father paid for him to study with Rudolph Kündinger who helped Tchaikovsky to overcome his aversion for German music and discover a passion for Mozart. All this went a long way to nurturing his musical talent and Tchaikovsky composed a waltz in the memory of his mother when he was just fourteen years of age.

When Tchaikovsky left school, he took on regular work but continued to further his knowledge of music. He continued to work until his father agreed to support his musical studies at the new St Petersburg Conservatory, whereupon he resigned and studied music full-time. After graduating from the Conservatory, Peter Tchaikovsky was offered the chance to become a professor of harmony, composition and music history. This he accepted since his father had fallen on more difficult times. He subsequently spent the next ten years teaching and composing. It would seem that he found teaching very taxing and in 1877, he suffered a breakdown, which subsequently ended his teaching career. After retiring from his teaching career, Tchaikovsky turned his attention to conducting. Before long he started to conduct all his own compositions and he toured both Russia and America successfully. Nine days after the first performance of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony in 1893, Tchaikovsky died. No one truly knows the reason for Tchaikovsky’s death. Some say he died of cholera, while yet others say he poisoned himself with arsenic. Whatever the case, Tchaikovsky left behind an impressive musical legacy that has influenced music the world over and will likely never be forgotten.


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