Composer Of The Month - Tchaicovsky
This month’s composer is another Russian musical giant. He lived for 53 years and wrote some of the most memorable music known to man.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (sometimes spelled Tchaikowsky or Tschaikowsky) was born on May 7, 1840, into a family of five siblings in Votkinsk, a small town in the Ural Mountains of Russia. His father was a mining engineer, and his mother was of French and German descent. Tchaikovsky showed musical talent from a young age and received piano lessons from the age of five.
In 1850, Tchaikovsky's family moved to Saint Petersburg, where he continued his education and eventually studied music at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence. After graduating, he worked as a civil servant for several years before quitting to focus on music full-time.
Tchaikovsky is considered one of the most popular and influential composers of the Romantic era, known for his lush orchestration, melodic gift, and emotional intensity. His career as a composer took off in the 1870s with the premiere of his first symphony, nicknamed "Winter Daydreams," and his first ballet, Swan Lake. He went on to write several more symphonies, operas, ballets, and other works, many of which are now considered classics of the repertoire.
Throughout his life, Tchaikovsky struggled with personal and emotional difficulties. He was deeply affected by the sudden death of his mother in 1854, and his sexuality was a source of great anxiety and shame for him, as homosexuality was illegal in Russia at the time. He married a woman, Antonina Miliukova, in 1877, but the marriage was disastrous and ended in separation after only a few months.
Despite his personal struggles, Tchaikovsky continued to write music that spoke to audiences around the world. His works have vivid orchestration, and emotional intensity. They continue to be performed and admired today. Throughout the month I’ll go into more detail about his music and life.