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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Biography

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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in May 1840 in Votkinsk.

Nearly every reference source places Tchaikovsky's birthdate as 7 May, however Vladimir Volkoff, in his fascinating biography of Tchaikovsky states the 10th May.

After graduating from the St Petersburg School of Law, Tchaikovsky was given a job at the Ministry of Justice. However, having played the piano from a very early age, Tchaikovsky became increasingly attracted to the world of music and in 1862 he studied at the St Petersburg Conservatoire.

Soon Tchaikovsky gave up his legal job and started to earn a living from music lessons and playing the piano.

In 1866 Tchaikovsky became a Professor at the Moscow Conservatoire. In the same year he composed his first symphony. Other works soon followed including other symphonies, piano concertos and operas including Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake.

In his late thirties Tchaikovsky started to travel and at around this time he became acquainted with Mrs von Meck, who became his patron.

In 1877-1878 the composer had a failed marriage to Antonia Milukov and also resigned from the Conservatoire.

His musical output continued, however, and included Sleeping Beauty and Eugene Onegin. Tchaikovsky's fame spread throughout Europe and the United States.

Two of Tchaikovsky's last works were The Nutcracker and Pathetique which he composed shortly before he died on November 6, 1893 in St Petersburg.

There has been much discussion of Tchaikovsky's sexuality as well as the cause of his death. It is a difficult subject and many biographers have been selective in their presentation of evidence.

Readers are recommended to try to get hold of Volkoff's book mentioned above for an interesting discussion of this and other aspects of Tchaikovsky's life.

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