Peter I. Tchaikovsky

From Wind Repertory Project
Peter I. Tchaikovsky


Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (7 May 1840, Votinsk, Russia – 6 November 1893, St. Petersburg, Russia) was a Russian composer.

Although musically precocious, Tchaikovsky was educated for a career as a civil servant. When an opportunity for a musical education arose, he entered the nascent Saint Petersburg Conservatory, from where he graduated in 1865. The formal Western-oriented teaching he received there set him apart from composers of the contemporary nationalist movement embodied by other Russian composers, with whom his professional relationship was mixed. Tchaikovsky's training set him on a path to reconcile what he had learned with the native musical practices to which he had been exposed from childhood. From this reconciliation, he forged a personal, independent but unmistakably Russian style, a task that did not prove easy. The principles of Russian nationalist artists were fundamentally at odds with those supporting European traditions, and this caused personal antipathies that dented Tchaikovsky's self-confidence.

Tchaikovsky’s works included symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, chamber music, and a choral setting of The Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Some of these are among the most popular concert and theatrical music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, which he bolstered with appearances as a guest conductor later in his career in Europe and the United States. One of these appearances was at the inaugural concert of Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1891. Tchaikovsky was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III, and awarded a lifetime pension in the late 1880s.

Despite his many popular successes, Tchaikovsky's life was punctuated by personal crises and depression. Contributory factors included his leaving his mother for boarding school, his mother's early death and the collapse of the one enduring relationship of his adult life, his 13-year association with the wealthy widow Nadezhda von Meck. His same-sex orientation, which he kept private, has traditionally also been considered a major factor, but musicologists now play down its importance.

His sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera; there is an ongoing debate as to whether the death was accidental or self-inflicted.

Works for Winds

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works