Peter Tchaikovsky – outstanding Russian composer
Peter Tchaikovsky is an outstanding Russian composer.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840 in Votkinsk, located on the territory of modern Udmurtia. His father was Ilya Petrovich Tchaikovsky was an engineer. The mother of the future celebrated composer was Alexandra Andreevna Assier. In Votkinsk, his father received a large house with servants and even his own army, consisting of one hundred Cossacks. This house was often visited by nobles, young people from the capital, English engineers and other venerable personalities.
The boy was the second child in his family. He also had elder brother Nikolai, younger brother Ippolit and younger sister Alexandra. Their father could play the flute, and the mother played the piano and the harp, as well as she had a very beautiful voice.
The boy was fond of music since his early childhood and also he liked poetry. Peter wrote numerous verses in French. In addition, he tried to learn everything about the life of Louis XVII.
In 1848, the Tchaikovskys moved to Moscow, as Ilya Petrovich retired and intended to find a private service. Literally a couple of months later the family moved to St. Petersburg. There, Pyotr Ilyich continued to study music, and also became acquainted with ballet, opera and symphony orchestra.
Although the young Pyotr was interested in music, was delighted with the famous operas and loved to go to the ballet, his parents did not consider music as a worthy profession for their son. At first, they wanted to send him to the Institute of the Corps of Mining Engineers, but then preferred the Imperial College of Law, located in St. Petersburg. Pyotr Ilyich entered it in 1850 and studied there until 1859.
The young man received a job in the Ministry of Justice and in his spare time, he continued to go to the opera house and study music. In 1861, Pyotr Ilyich visited Hamburg, Berlin, Antwerp, Brussels, Paris, Ostend and even London. By that time, he was fluent in Italian and French, and he was able to accompany engineer V. Pisarev (a friend of his father) as an interpreter.
Surprisingly, even at the age of 21, Pyotr Ilyich, who received his education and joined the civil service, had not yet really thought about a musical career. He, as well as his parents, did not take his interest seriously. But, fortunately, the father of the future composer still felt that his son was destined to become a great musician.
Tchaikovsky Sr. even went to Rudolph Kündinger to find out his opinion on his son’s talent. The German pianist categorically stated that Tchaikovsky, Jr. had no special musical abilities, and he was too old to start a creative career.
But when Pyotr found out that a new conservatory led by the famous Anton Rubinstein was opened in St. Petersburg, Tchaikovsky decided at all costs to enter the St. Petersburg Conservatory. And soon after that, he left jurisprudence, having decided, in spite of the problems with money, to devote himself completely to music.
As his thesis work, Pyotr Ilyich composed cantata To Joy. It was created for the Russian-language translation of ode by Friedrich Schiller with the same name. The cantata made a bad impression on the musicians of St. Petersburg.
But such a reaction did not embarrass the young composer. He received well-deserved silver medal, which was then the highest award, and began working hard. In 1866 the composer moved to Moscow at the invitation of his mentor’s brother. Nikolai Rubinshtein offered him a job as a professor at the Moscow Conservatory.
At the Moscow Conservatory, Tchaikovsky proved himself to be an excellent teacher. In addition, he made a lot of efforts for the qualitative organization of the educational process. Since there were not enough worthy textbooks for his students at that time, the composer started translating foreign literature and even created his own methodological materials. However, in 1878, Peter Ilyich left his post and dedicated all his time to creativity.
Tchaikovsky became a famous and successful composer. But he did not live a happy or exciting life. He was very shy and lived alone. Every day he stayed home and wrote music. He was often unhappy. By the way, he was afraid of many things. The composer was afraid to die. Also he was afraid his head would fall off his shoulders. This was a problem when he conducted music. So he sometimes held his head with his left hand and conducted with his right hand.
The most famous ballet in the world, a symbol of an era, failed. Only after the death of the composer ballet Swan Lake has become popular.
Antonina Milyukova, a student of Tchaikovsky Conservatory, to support a composer wrote him a letter about her love to him. Later they got married but Pyotr loved her only like sister. Antonina was eight years younger than the composer. The marriage broke up a few weeks later. Tchaikovsky avoided staying with his wife in private. He literally ran away from home. The protracted divorce and subsequent heavy civil marriage had led to mental illness of Antonina, who brought their children to orphanage.
In 1876, Tchaikovsky received a letter from a mysterious rich widow. Her name was Madame von Meek. She said she loved his music and offered to send him money every year. There was one condition. They must never meet. Tchaikovsky agreed. They had been corresponding for 14 years. Then Madame von Meek suddenly stopped writing. Tchaikovsky was very hurt.
In the 1880s and 1890s, Tchaikovsky traveled abroad more often than before. During his trips the musician became acquainted and made friends with many musicians from Western Europe: Gustav Mahler, Arthur Nikisch, Edward Grieg, Antonin Dvorak and others. The composer performed as a conductor during the concerts. In the early 1890s, Tchaikovsky even managed to visit the United States.
In 1892 he was elected a corresponding member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, and in 1893 he became an honorary doctorate at the University of Cambridge.
In 1890, German inventor Julius Block made a short recording by phonoautograph. Before recording Block asked the composer to play the piano, or at least say something. He refused, saying: “I am a bad pianist and my voice is raspy. Why perpetuate it?”
Tchaikovsky said that he was touched when Leo Tolstoy burst into tears while sitting next to him in the hall and listening to the Andante of his quartet.
Tchaikovsky died from cholera on November 6, 1893, after he drank contaminated water. He was 53. Some people say he drank it by accident. Others say he drank the water to kill himself.
Today we remember Tchaikovsky for his wonderful symphonies and ballets. To this day, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker are three of the world’s most popular ballets.