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Peter Tchaikovsky


Peter Tchaikovsky composerPeter Tchaikovsky is one the most celebrated Russian composers of all time. A product of the Romantic era, his rich harmonies, expressive melodies and orchestrations have made him an audience favorite in concert halls around the world.

Born in 1840 into a middle class family, young Tchaikovsky was initially pushed towards a career as a civil servant before following his true passion, music. In 1862 he entered the renowned Saint Petersburg Conservatory, giving the prodigy a foundation essential to his future success. While often dismissed by critics in the early part of his career as being vulgar and lacking in elevated thought, by the end of the 20th century Tchaikovsky's status as a significant composer was all but assured. In 1884 (at the age of 44), Tsar Alexander III honored Tchaikovsky with the Order of St. Vladimir (fourth class), and by this time the composer's reputation was already growing amongst foreign audiences. In considerable demand both in Russia and abroad, and just years before his death, Tchaikovsky conducted his Festival Coronation March at the inaugural concert of New York's Carnegie Hall (1891), was voted a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in France (1892) and given an honorary Doctor of Music degree at the University of Cambridge in Britain (1893). Tchaikovsky, in actuality, became the first Russian composer to personally acquaint foreign audiences with his own works, as well as those of other Russian composers.

Why has Peter Tchaikovsky's music made such an impact around the world? Much can be attributed to the genius in his use of rich harmonies that progress into moments of extreme emotion. His mastery of danseuse (melodies which match physical movements perfectly) and vivid orchestration also enabled him to create some of the world's greatest ballet music. While Tchaikovsky left us a wealth of great music including Symphonies, Concertos, Operas and many shorter works, some of his most popular compositions include the following:

  • last three of his numbered symphonies (the fourth, fifth and sixth)
    • No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36 (1877–1878)
    • No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 (1888)
    • No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, Pathétique (1893)
  • Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (1869, revised 1870, 1880)
  • Francesca da Rimini Symphonic Fantasy, Op. 32, (1876)
  • Slavonic March / Marche Slave, Op. 31, (1876)
  • ballet Swan Lake, Op. 20, (1875-1876)
  • ballet The Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66, (1888-1889)
  • ballet The Nutcracker, Op. 71, (1891-1892) also arranged as a suite for orchestra
  • Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23 (1874-1875)
  • Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, (1878)
  • opera Vakula the Smith (Kuznets Vakula), Op. 14, (1874)
  • opera Eugene Onegin (Yevgeny Onegin), Op. 24, (1877-1878) story by Pushkin
  • opera The Queen of Spades (Pikovaya dama), Op. 68, (1890) story by Pushkin
  • opera The Maid of Orleans (Orleanskaya deva), (1878-1879)

"How can one express the indefinable sensations that one experiences while writing an instrumental composition that has no definite subject? It is a purely lyrical process. It is a musical confession of the soul, which unburdens itself through sounds just as a lyric poet expresses himself through poetry... As the poet Heine said, 'Where words leave off, music begins.' " (P.I. Tchaikovsky)


Peter Tchaikovsky Facts


Russian Name: Пётр Ильич Чайковский

Date of Birth: May 7, 1840

Place of Birth: Votkinsk, Russian Empire

  • house museum of Tchaikovsky's childhood is still located in Votkinsk (20 min from Izhevsk, Udmurtia)

Date of Death: November 6, 1893

Place of Death: Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire

Musical Compositions: view list of Tchaikovsky's works


Peter Tchaikovsky The Nutcracker


A Tribute to Tchaikovsky - Popular Works


Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Part 1/4


Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Part 2/4


Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Part 3/4


Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Part 4/4


Peter Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker - Kirov Ballet, Saint Petersburg