• Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Composer - Biography
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Pyotr (Peter) Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840, in Votkinsk, Vyatka region, Russia

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Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was one of the most loved of Russian composers
In 1876 Tchaikovsky became acquainted with Madam Nadejda von Meck, a wealthy widow, whose enthusiasm for the composer's music led her to give him an annual allowance of 600 pounds. Fourteen years later, however, Madame von Meck, believing herself financially ruined, abruptly terminated the subsidy. Although Tchaikovsky's other sources of income were by then adequate to sustain him, he was wounded by the sudden defection of his patron without apparent cause, and he never forgave her. The period of his connection with Madame von Meck was one of rich productivity for Tchaikovsky. To this time belong the operas Eugene Onegin (1878), The Maid of Orleans (1879), Mazeppa (1883) and The Sorceress (1887), the ballets Swan Lake (1876) and The Sleeping Beauty (1889), the Rococo Variations for Cello & Orchestra (1876), the Violin Concerto in D Major (1878), the orchestral works Marche Slave (1876), Francesca da Rimini (1876), Symphony #4 in F minor (1877), the overture The Year 1812 (1880), Capriccio Italien (1880), Serenade for string orchestra (1880), Manfred symphony (1885), Symphony #5 in E minor (1888), the fantasy overture Hamlet (1885) and numerous songs. Meanwhile, in 1877, Tchaikovsky, perhaps hoping to still the sexual identity conflicts, had married Antonina Milyukova, a music student at the Moscow Conservatory who had written to the composer declaring her love for him. The marriage was unhappy from the outset, and the couple soon separated.

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Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Sir Georg Solti, Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Tchaikovsky: Symphony No
The issue, briefly, is this: did the Russian composer actually die in 1893 of cholera, as biographers have assured us for generations? Or was he, as some serious students of Tchaikovsky now contend, forced to commit suicide by a ''court of honor'' made up of his former classmates at the College of Law in St. Petersburg?. The composer may have acted out of fear that he and especially his family would be disgraced if the fact of his homosexuality were made public. The Czar already knew, and Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky's idol, might learn of it any day. So runs the argument for suicide. Russia, then as now, was a stern and unpermissive mother.


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Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky forever changed the world of ballet with Swan Lake and The Nutcracker
It is possible that Tchaikovsky married Milyukova ‘on the rebound’ after being rejected by some male lover. At the time, he was busy composing Tatiana's Letter Scene in his opera . He very clearly identified with Tatiana, who had been rejected by her lover Onegin. He had recently responded to a letter from Milyukova and had agreed to meet with her, but he pointedly notes in a letter to his brother Modest that he had entirely forgotten about Milyukova when working on his opera:

Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840, in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Vyatka, Russia. He was the second eldest of his parents' six surviving offspring. Tchaikovsky's father, Ilya, worked as a mine inspector and metal works manager.

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Acclaim came readily for Tchaikovsky in 1875, with his composition Symphony No. 3 in D Major. At the end of that year, the composer embarked on a tour of Europe. In 1876, he completed the ballet Swan Lake as well as the fantasy Francesca da Rimini.

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Struggling with societal pressures to repress his homosexuality, in 1877, Tchaikovsky married a young music student named Antonina Milyukova. The marriage was a catastrophe, with Tchaikovsky abandoning his wife within weeks of the wedding. During a nervous breakdown, he unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide, and eventually fled abroad.

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Tchaikovsky's homosexuality was denied by Soviet musicologists until fairly recently, and much material still remains to be retrieved from Russian archives and published in English. His lovers included Alexey Apukhtin in his music student days 1867-70; Vladimir Shilovsky, a wealthy young lad whom he also met at the Moscow Conservatory, during 1868-72, and who financed several trips for the two of them; Alexei Sofronov his valet from 1872 to the end of his life; his pupil Eduard Zak, who killed himself in 1873 (he inspired the ); Joseph Kotek in the mid-1870s; his nephew Vladimir Davidov (second son of his sister Alexandra) in the 1880s-1890s, to whom he dedicated the (1893); and the young pianist Vassily Sapelnikov who went with him on a tour to Germany, France and England. In addition, many brief affairs are recorded in his cryptographic diary; e.g. on March 22, 1889 he records that a ‘Negro came in to me’, to his hotel room in Paris.

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But it was not to be, for in November 1893, less than a month after the premiere of the , Tchaikovsky was murdered. It was reported that he died from cholera, caused by drinking an unboiled glass of water. On November 1 (New Style; the Russian Old Style calendar was twelve days behind this) he dined at a restaurant with Bob after seeing a play, and insisted on being brought a glass of water even though it was unboiled and even though his friends remonstrated with him. (Another version has it that he ran to the kitchen in Modest’s apartment to get the unboiled water, shouting ‘Who cares anyway!’) On November 2 he fell ill, and on November 6 he was dead, from kidney failure and dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhoea. But death from cholera cannot possibly occur so soon after an infection, and even Rimsky-Korsakov, who paid his respects to the composer’s body in Modest’s apartment, thought it was strange that the apartment had not been disinfected and that people were even allowed to kiss the corpse despite government regulations that required that the coffin be sealed in cases of cholera. Rumors of suicide began to fly. In the 1920s one of the doctors who attended him, Vasily Bertenson, admitted that Tchaikovsky had poisoned himself.