|Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
the first Russian composer to gain
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was
born in Votkinsk, Russia, on May 7, 1840, the son
of a successful mining engineer. He began taking
piano lessons at age five, and by the time he was
eight was reading music as well as his teacher.
In 1850 his father was made Director of the St.
Petersburg Technological Institute, and Peter
entered the School of Jurisprudence in St.
Petersburg that same year. Although he was
supposed to be gaining an education suitable for
a future civil servant, he also found time to
attend the opera and theater with friends and to
take piano lessons from a piano manufacturer who
occasionally visited the school. The death of his
mother in 1854 affected him deeply and began what
became a life-long battle with depression, but it
also moved him even deeper into music. Although
he got a clerical position with the Ministry of
Justice in 1859, he never liked the work and gave
it up after four years.
In 1861, while still working
for the Ministry of Justice, Tchaikovsky began
studying at the Russian Musical Society under
pianist/composer Anton Rubinstein, making him the
first Russian composer to receive systematic
training in music fundamentals. When Rubinstein
moved to the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1863,
Tchaikovsky quit his job and moved with him.
After his studies ended in 1866, he became a
teacher at the Moscow Conservatory, where he
remained until 1876.
Tchaikovsky began composing
sometime around 1866, but did not receive major
acclaim until his Overture-Fantasy Romeo and
Juliet was performed, in 1869. As the volume
of his works increased and he gained exposure,
his music attracted the attention of Nadezhda von
Meck, a wealthy widow, who, in 1876, agreed to
support him financially so he could compose at
leisure; her only condition was that the two
could never meet in person. Tchaikovsky eagerly
accepted the widow's offer, and, after taking
some time to travel, spent the rest of his life
composing. And, in keeping with the widow's
condition, Tchaikovsky never saw his patroness,
nor did she ever meet him in person, although the
two exchanged numerous letters over the years.
The first Russian composer to
gain international fame, Tchaikovsky is today
best known for the ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping
Beauty and The Nutcracker, as well
as the fireworks spectacular standard The
1812 Overture. He died of cholera in St.
Petersburg on November 6, 1893.
His Major Works
The Voyevoda (1869)
The Oprichnik (1874)
Vakula the Smith (1876)
Eugene Onégin (1879)
The Maid of Orleans (1881)
The Sorceress (1887)
The Queen of Spades (1890)
Swan Lake (1877)
Sleeping Beauty (1890)
The Nutcracker (1892)
Symphony No. 1, G, "Winter Daydreams"
Romeo and Juliet, fantasy overture (1869)
Symphony No. 2, C, "Little Russian"
Symphony No. 3, D, "Polish"
Francesca da Rimini (1876)
Variations on a Rococo Theme for Violoncello
and Orchestra (1876)
Symphony No. 4, F (1878)
Violin Concerto in D Major (1878)
1812 Overture (1880)
Symphony No. 5, E (1888)
Symphony No. 6, B, "Pathétique" (1893)
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 in B Flat
over 100 other piano pieces
about 30 choral works
over 100 songs and duets
World Book Encyclopedia.
Chicago: World Book-Childcraft International,
Great Performances http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/tchaikovsky.html
Notorious Names Database http://www.nndb.com/people/833/000087572/
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