Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (1840- 1893)

Tchaikovsky was considered to be THE Russain composer. He was very unromantic Russian doesn't exist. The question of whether he is the best Russian composer of all time is disputed by fans of Stravinsky. Tchaikovsky studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and then went on to teach at the Moscow Conservatory. Tchaikovsky was much more international and cosmopolitan than other Russian composers of his time. His work shows the influence of Italian Opera, French Ballet, and German Symphony and song. His most famous work is the 1812 Overture written to celebrate the Russian withstanding over Napoleon's invasion. Other famous works by the composer are any of his waltzes, The Nutcracker Ballet, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. Tchaikovsky is particularly renowned for his use of melody and lyrical lines.

Tchaikovsky tried to conceal his homosexuality throughout his life. He even married a woman in 1877. The wedding was immidiately followed by an attempt at suicide after walking into the Moska River hoping to contract pneumonia.

On November 6, 1893, Tchaikovsky died of cholera. That is the official theory. Another idea is that he was forced to drink arsenic to preserve his school's good name when it was apparent that his homosexuality was about to become a scandal.

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Also, check out the Frederic Chopin Page and the Strauss Biographies Page to learn about other great waltz composers!

Goulding, Phil. Classical Music. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992: 210-211.

compiled by Christina Borg