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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Early life

Tchaikovsky as a legal student

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_25» \o «April 25» April 25 ,
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1840» \o «1840» 1840 (
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_calendar» \o «Julian
calendar» Julian calendar ) or HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_7» \o «May 7» May 7 ( HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar» \o «Gregorian
calendar» Gregorian calendar ) in HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Votkinsk» \o «Votkinsk» Votkinsk , a
small town in present-day HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udmurtia» \o «Udmurtia» Udmurtia (at the
time the HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vyatka» \o «Vyatka»
Vyatka HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guberniya» \o
«Guberniya» Guberniya under HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Russia» \o «Imperial Russia»
Imperial Russia ). He was the son of Ilya Petrovich Tchaikovsky, a
mining engineer in the government mines, and the second of his three
wives, Alexandra Andreyevna Assier, a Russian woman of HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_people» \o «French people» French
ancestry. He was the older brother (by some ten years) of the
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dramatist» \o «Dramatist»
dramatist , HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Librettist» \o
«Librettist» librettist , and HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Translator» \o «Translator» translator
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modest_Ilyich_Tchaikovsky» \o
«Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky» Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky .

Pyotr began HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano» \o «Piano»
piano lessons at the age of five, and in a few months he was already
proficient at HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Kalkbrenner» \o «Friedrich
Kalkbrenner» Friedrich Kalkbrenner ‘s composition Le Fou. In
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1850» \o «1850» 1850 , his
father was appointed director of the HYPERLINK
logy» \o «Saint Petersburg State Institute of Technology» St Petersburg
Technological Institute . There, the young Tchaikovsky obtained an
excellent general education at the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_of_Jurisprudence» \o «School of
Jurisprudence» School of Jurisprudence , and furthered his instruction
on the piano with the director of the music library.

Also during this time, he made the acquaintance of the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_people» \o «Italian people»
Italian master HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Piccioli» \o «Luigi Piccioli» Luigi
Piccioli , who influenced the young man away from HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_people» \o «German people» German
music, and encouraged the love of HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gioacchino_Rossini» \o «Gioacchino
Rossini» Rossini , HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincenzo_Bellini» \o «Vincenzo Bellini»
Bellini , and HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaetano_Donizetti» \o «Gaetano Donizetti»
Donizetti . His father indulged Tchaikovsky’s interest in music by
funding studies with HYPERLINK
=edit» \o «Rudolph Kuendinger» Rudolph Kuendinger , a well-known piano
teacher from HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg» \o
«Nuremberg» Nuremberg . Under Kuendinger, Tchaikovsky’s aversion to
German music was overcome, and a lifelong affinity with the music of
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Amadeus_Mozart» \o
«Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart» Mozart was seeded. When his mother died of
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholera» \o «Cholera» cholera
in HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1854» \o «1854» 1854 , the
14-year-old composed a HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waltz»
\o «Waltz» waltz in her memory.

Tchaikovsky left school in HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1858» \o «1858» 1858 and received
employment as an under-secretary in the Ministry of Justice, where he
soon joined the Ministry’s choral group. In HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1861» \o «1861» 1861 , he befriended a
fellow civil servant who had studied with HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Zaremba» \o «Nikolai Zaremba»
Nikolai Zaremba , who urged him to resign his position and pursue his
studies further. Not ready to give up employment, Tchaikovsky agreed to
begin lessons in musical theory with Zaremba.

The following year, when Zaremba joined the faculty of the new
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Petersburg_Conservatory»
\o «Saint Petersburg Conservatory» St Petersburg Conservatory ,
Tchaikovsky followed his teacher and enrolled, but still did not give up
his post at the ministry, until his father consented to support him.
From HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1862» \o «1862» 1862 to
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1865» \o «1865» 1865 ,
Tchaikovsky studied HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmony»
\o «Harmony» harmony , HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterpoint» \o «Counterpoint»
counterpoint and the HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugue»
\o «Fugue» fugue with Zaremba, and instrumentation and composition
under the director and founder of the Conservatory, HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Rubinstein» \o «Anton Rubinstein»
Anton Rubinstein , who was both impressed by and envious of
Tchaikovsky’s talent.

Musical career

Tchaikovsky as professor of composition

After graduating, Tchaikovsky was approached by Anton Rubinstein’s
younger brother HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Grigoryevich_Rubinstein» \o
«Nikolai Grigoryevich Rubinstein» Nikolai to become professor of
harmony, composition, and the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_music» \o «History of music»
history of music . Tchaikovsky gladly accepted the position, as his
father had retired and lost his property. The next ten years were spent
teaching and composing. Teaching was taxing, and in HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1877» \o «1877» 1877 he suffered a
breakdown. After a year off, he attempted to return to teaching, but
retired his post soon after. He spent some time in HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland» \o «Switzerland» Switzerland
, but eventually took residence with his sister, who had an estate just
outside HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiev» \o «Kiev» Kiev

Tchaikovsky took to orchestral HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conducting» \o «Conducting» conducting
after filling in at a performance in HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moscow» \o «Moscow» Moscow of his
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera» \o «Opera» opera
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Enchantress» \o «The
Enchantress» The Enchantress ( HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_language» \o «Russian language»
Russian : Чародейка) (1885-7). Overcoming a life-long HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossophobia» \o «Glossophobia» stage
fright , his confidence gradually increased to the extent that he
regularly took to conducting his pieces.

Tchaikovsky visited HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States» \o «United States» America
in HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1891» \o «1891» 1891 in
a triumphant tour to conduct performances of his works. On HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_5» \o «May 5» May 5 , he conducted
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Symphony_Orchestra» \o «New York
Symphony Orchestra» New York Music Society’s HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchestra» \o «Orchestra» orchestra in a
performance of HYPERLINK
» \o «Marche Solennelle» Marche Solennelle on the opening night of
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City» \o «New York
City» New York’s HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_Hall» \o «Carnegie Hall»
Carnegie Hall . That evening was followed by subsequent performances of
his Third Suite on HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_7» \o
«May 7» May 7 , and the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_cappella» \o «A cappella» a cappella
choruses HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pater_Noster» \o
«Pater Noster» Pater Noster and HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legend» \o «Legend» Legend on
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_8» \o «May 8» May 8 . The
U.S. tour also included performances of his HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_Concerto_No._1_%28Tchaikovsky%29» \o
«Piano Concerto No. 1 (Tchaikovsky)» First Piano Concerto and
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenade_for_Strings_%28Tchaikovsky%29» \o
«Serenade for Strings (Tchaikovsky)» Serenade for Strings .

Just nine days after the first performance of his HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._6_%28Tchaikovsky%29» \o
«Symphony No. 6 (Tchaikovsky)» Sixth Symphony , Pathetique, in
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1893» \o «1893» 1893 , in St
Petersburg, Tchaikovsky died (see section below).

Some musicologists (e.g., Milton Cross, David Ewen) believe that he
consciously wrote his Sixth Symphony as his own Requiem. In the
development section of the first movement, the rapidly progressing
evolution of the transformed first theme suddenly «shifts into neutral»
in the strings, and a rather quiet, harmonized chorale emerges in the
trombones. The trombone theme bears absolutely no relation to the music
that preceded it, and none to the music which follows it. It appears to
be a musical «non sequitur», an anomaly — but it is from the Russian
Orthodox Mass for the Dead, in which it is sung to the words: «And may
his soul rest with the souls of all the saints.» Tchaikovsky was
interred in HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikhvin_Cemetery»
\o «Tikhvin Cemetery» Tikhvin Cemetery at the HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Nevsky_Monastery» \o «Alexander
Nevsky Monastery» Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St Petersburg.

His music included some of the most renowned pieces of the romantic
period. Many of his works were inspired by events in his life.

Tchaikovsky in 1874

Tchaikovsky’s HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality»
\o «Homosexuality» homosexuality , as well as its importance to his
life and music, has long been recognized, though any proof of it was
suppressed during the Soviet era. HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/» \l «_note-1» \o «» [2] Although some
historians continue to view him as heterosexual, many others — such as
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rictor_Norton» \o «Rictor
Norton» Rictor Norton and Alexander Poznansky — conclude that some of
Tchaikovsky’s closest relationships were homosexual (citing his servant
Aleksei Sofronov and his nephew, Vladimir «Bob» Davydov). Evidence that
Tchaikovsky was homosexual is drawn from his letters and diaries, as
well as the letters of his brother, Modest, who was also homosexual.

During his education at the School of Jurisprudence, he was infatuated
with French soprano HYPERLINK
action=edit» \o «Desiree Artot» Desiree Artot , but she married another
man. One of his conservatory students, HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonina_Miliukova» \o «Antonina
Miliukova» Antonina Miliukova , began writing him passionate letters
around the time that he had made up his mind to «marry whoever will have
me.» He did not even remember her from his classes, but her letters were
very persistent. Ironically, the composer had been studying Pushkin’s
poem HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Onegin» \o «Eugene
Onegin» Eugene Onegin and was considering making it into an opera. A
crucial scene is when the heroine, Tatiana, receives a letter from
Onegin, rebuffing her romantic advances. Now truth seemed to imitate
fiction. Was he to play Onegin to this Tatiana? Would he, like Onegin,
live a lifetime of regret if he followed a similar course?

Tchaikovsky could have tactfully attempted to dissuade Antonina.
Instead, he replied that he could offer only gratitude and sympathy in
reply to her love. He retained enough sense to have discreet inquiries
made about Antonina from a friend. That friend returned with a highly
unfavorable account of her. Even with this information in hand,
Tchaikovsky allowed his feeling for drama and Fate to outweigh his
common sense, and he hastily married her on HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_18» \o «July 18» July 18 ,
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1877» \o «1877» 1877 .

The composer at age 37 with his wife, Antonina Miliukova (1877)

Within days, while still on their honeymoon, Tchaikovsky deeply
regretted his decision. By the time the couple returned to Moscow on
July 26, he was a state of near-collapse. The strain in his appearance
became obvious to his friends as the days passed, but they may not have
truly realized how far Tchaikovsky was sliding into disaster. Two weeks
after the wedding the composer supposedly attempted suicide by wading
waist-high into the freezing Moscow River. He stood there until he could
bear the cold no longer, certain he would contract a fatal case of
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pneumonia» \o «Pneumonia»
pneumonia . His robust physical constitution defeated that plan, and his
mental state grew even worse. Tchaikovsky fled to HYPERLINK
«http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Petersburg» \o «Saint Petersburg»
St Petersburg , his mind verging on a nervous breakdown.

Tchaikovsky’s brother Anatoly met him at the railroad station when he
arrived, but did not initially recognize his brother’s changed face.
Anatoly rushed him to a hotel where, after a violent outburst,
Tchaikovsky lapsed into a two-day coma. Anatoly never told the specifics
of what happened during that time. However, he must have explained at
least some, if not all, of the truth to the mental specialist who was
the only other person apart from his brothers and father to see the
composer. The specialist prescribed a complete life change. He
recommended Tchaikovsky make no attempt to renew his marriage, nor try
to see his wife again. The composer never returned to his wife but did
send her a regular allowance through the years. They remained legally
married until his death.

Tchaikovsky lived for years in the fear that Antonina would reveal
publically the true reason for their separation. Anatoly tried talking
her into accepting a divorce. She would not, however, consent to the
necessary fiction, needed for grounds of divorce, that Tchaikovsky had
committed adultery. Tchaikovsky’s publisher, HYPERLINK
n=edit» \o «Pyotr I. Juergenson» Pyotr I. Juergenson , tried his best
to intercede in the matter on the composer’s behalf. Eventually in the
summer of 1880 Juergenson discovered that Antonina had taken a lover the
previous winter and had a child by him. She continued to have children
at regular intervals and to deposit them all in a foundlings’ home. By
1896 she was herself in a home, certified insane. She died in 1917.

Tchaikovsky himself never laid any blame upon Antonina. He considered
his falling in with her, at a time when he had grown to be married for
the sake of being married, as something to simply attribute to Fate.
Regardless of whether a more tactful and intelligent woman could have
come to terms with his homosexuality and provided him with the affection
and care for which he longed both to receive and to give, Tchaikovsky
never lost his personal ideal of marriage. When Anatoly became engaged,
the composer wrote him a warm letter of congratulations. There he
confessed, «Sometimes I am overcome with an insane craving for the cares
of a woman’s touch. Sometimes I see a sympathetic woman in whose lap I
could lay my head, whose hands I would gladly kiss….» Biographer John
Warrack maintains that the terms of this letter reveal Tchaikovsky was
actually far from the realization of a true relationship with a wife,
and that what Tchaikovsky describes may be a vision of his lost mother
HYPERLINK «http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/» \l «_note-2» \o «» [3] .

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