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Royalty Free Music - Tchaikovsky

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Tchaikovsky- Biography

Tchaikovsky was a nineteenth century composer of music in the "romantic" style. His sensitive character and deeply-felt love of Russia flowed into his profound and emotional compositions, which include symphonies, ballet and opera.

Pyotr Ill'yich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7th 1840 in the small town of Votkinsk, Russia. He was the second son of six children born to Il'ya Petrovich Tchaikovsky and his wife Alexandra Andreyevna, to whom the young Pyotr Ill'yich was devoted. He began taking piano lessons at the age of five and immediately showed a great talent for music, the melodies he heard keeping him awake in bed at night. At the age of ten he was sent to boarding school in St. Petersburg to begin studies for a career in the civil service, but he found the moment of separation from his mother agonizing. Four years later she died, and this event turned Pyotr to composition which he continued privately, as the school did not teach music. In 1859 he graduated and began three years working in the civil service, whilst taking lessons in music theory privately with Nikolai Zaremba and Anton Rubinstein at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire. In 1862 he left to become a full-time student there after securing financial support from his Father.

At that time, St. Petersburg was home to "The Five" - a group of Russian composers including Mussorgsky, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov. Tchaikovsky held himself largely seperate from them, wishing to maintain a professionalism in his writing that he felt would appeal to the European public as well as the Russians. Whilst not wishing to join in with what he considered to be their arrogance and self-concern, he maintained a cordial relationship with them, and later expressed admiration for Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorgsky's compositions.

Tchaikovsky's life was greatly enriched by his correspondance with Nadezdha von Meck, a wealthy widow who supported him financially and with whom he shared his deepest thoughts. It was impossible for him to publically acknowledge his homosexuality, and so this friendship became the closest he would get to a secure and intimate relationship. A disastrous marraige to Antonina Miliukova lead him to a mental breakdown, and following their seperation he wrote to von Meck "Henceforth, every note that emanates from my pen shall be dedicated to you". It was then that he composed his opera "Eugene Onegin" and his Fourth Symphony, turmoil and grief expressed magnificently in each.

Tchaikovsky's reputation as a composer and a conductor grew steadily throughout his life, and he travelled Europe and even visited America, conducting his Marche Slave at the Carnegie Hall's inaugural concert in new York, and gained an honorary degree from the University of Cambridge. Works flowed steadily from his pen. But sadly, only nine days after the first performance of his "Pathetique Symphony", and following a reputed bout of cholera, Tchaikovsky died on the 6th November 1893.

Throughout his life, Tchaikovsky strove to write great music that would remain true to his great love of Russia but that also would stand well in a world of European composers. He found a way to channel his emotion and pain into incredibly expressive and beautiful compositions which are performed, recorded and admired today, and available in our Royalty Free Music library.

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