Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Russian: Петр Ильич Чайковский
Also Known As: "Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Votkinsk, Udmurt Republic, Russia
Death: Died in St Petersburg, St Petersburg, Russia
Cause of death: Cholera or suicide
Place of Burial: Tikhvin Cemetery , Alexander Nevsky Monastery, Russia
Immediate Family:

Son of Илья Петрович Chaika and Александра Андреевна Чайковская
Ex-husband of Антонина Ивановна Чайковская
Brother of Николай Ильич Чайковский; Александра Ильинична Давыдова; Ипполит Ильич Чайковский; Анатолий Ильич Tchaikovsky and Modest Tchaikovsky
Half brother of Зинаида Ильинична Чайковская

Occupation: Composer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильич Чайковский) (May 7, 1840 – November 6, 1893) was a Russian composer whose works included symphonies, operas, ballets, and chamber music. Some of these rate amongst the most popular concert and theatrical music in the classical repertoire.

Despite his musical precocity, Tchaikovsky was educated for a career as a civil servant. Against the wishes of his family, he pursued a musical career and entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory from which he graduated in 1865. This formal Western-oriented training set him apart from composers of the contemporary nationalist movement embodied by the Russian composers of The Five, with whom Tchaikovsky's professional relationship was mixed.

Despite his many popular successes, Tchaikovsky's life was punctuated by personal crises and depression. Contributory factors include leaving his mother for boarding school, his mother's early death, his suppressed same-sex orientation, and the collapse of the one enduring relationship of his adult life, his 13-year association with the wealthy widow Nadezhda von Meck. His sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera, but some attribute it to suicide.

During his life, Tchaikovsky was honored by the Tsar and awarded a lifetime pension. His music was extremely popular then, and still is today, although critics have sometimes dismissed it as lacking in elevated thought. By the end of the 20th century, however, Tchaikovsky's status as a significant composer had become secure.

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Mini Biography

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.

Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Google Doodle: http://www.google.com/doodles/pyotr-ilyich-tchaikovskys-170th-birthday

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Timeline

1840
May 7, 1840
Votkinsk, Udmurt Republic, Russia
1877
July 6, 1877
Age 37
Moscow, Russia
September 1877
Age 37
1893
November 6, 1893
Age 53
St Petersburg, St Petersburg, Russia
November 9, 1893
Age 53
Alexander Nevsky Monastery, Russia