7 May 1840 - 6 November 1893 (age 53)

Tchaikovsky is probably THE most popular classical composer of all time. Best known for his ballet music and symphonies.






portrait of Tchaikovsky

Portrait by Paul Helm ©
click on image for more info


Born: 7 May 1840, Votkinsk a mining town in Russia. 
 Ilya Petrovich, Ukrainian descent, a mining engineer. 
Mother: Alexandra, Russian of partial French ancestry and the second of Ilya's three wives 
Siblings: 4 brothers, 1 sister
Wife: Antonina Ivanovana Milyukoff, on July 6, 1877. (Marriage lasted less than a month) 
Children: none.
Died: 6th November 1893, St.Petersburg. 
Cause of death: Officially cholera. But various theories involving murder or suicide.
Grave: Alexander Nevsky Monastery, St. Petersburg. See findagrave 


Tchaikovsky postage stamp

10 operas including: 
-Eugenen Onegin
-The Maid of Orleans
-Queen of Spades
-Swan Lake
-The Sleeping Beauty
-The Nutcracker
-Snow Maiden
-6 Symphonies
-Various overtures
-3 Piano Concertos
-Chamber works
-Piano works
-Choral works 


- age 5: started piano lessons.
- Age 10: - Sent to the School of Jurisprudence in St Petersburg.
- Age 14: His mother died of cholera. This had a profound and lasting effect on him as he was very close to her.
- Age 19- 23: Worked at the Ministry of Justuce.
- Age 23 - 26: Studied at the Conservatory, under Anton Rubinstein and Prof.Zarembe and did some private teaching.
- Age 26: Moved to Moscow. Appointed Professor of Harmony at the new Conservatory by Nicholas Rubinstein.
Completed his First Symphony.
- Age 29: Voyevoda, his first opera, performed at the Bolshoi. Composed his Romeo and Juliet overture.
- Age 33: Supplements his teaching income writing as a music critic. Composes his Second Symphony, First Piano Concerto and his first ballet Swan Lake.
- Age 36: A wealthy admirer, Madame Nadejda Fillaretovna von Meck, became his patron and sponsored him financially for 12 years. He dedicated his 4th Symphony to her.
- Age 37: Married one of his students, Antonina Ivanovana, but left her within a month. Failed suicide attempt.
- Age 38: Premiere of his opera Eugene Onegin.
- Age 40: Composes 1812 Overture and Serenade for Strings.
- Age 45: Receives a lifelong subsidy from the Tsar. Overcomes his shyness and starts conducting, appearing in concert halls throughout Europe.
- Age 50: Premiere of Sleeping Beauty and The Queen of Spades in St.Petersburg.
- Agg 51; (1891) Very successful tour of the USA
- Age 52: Nutcracker and Iolanta premiere in St.Petersburg.
- Age 53: Conducts the premiere of his 6th (Pathetique)Symphony. A few days later he falls ill and dies on 6th November.


- "I sit down to the piano regularly at nine-o'clock in the morning and Mesdames les Muses have learned to be on time for that rendezvous."

- “Truly there would be reason to go mad were it not for music.”

- “The creative process is like music which takes root with extraordinary force and rapidity”

- "A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood."

- "What I have set down in a moment of ardour I must then critically examine. Sometimes I must do myself violence before I can mercilessly erase things thought out with love."

Tchaikovsky on eBay

You will find lots of Tchaikovsky related items on eBay, some new, some used, some common, some rare. Always good for a browse - you never know what you may find!

1812 Overture (Finale)

Piano Concerto No. 1 - pt 1/3
Yuja Wang
Tchaikovsky on Benjamin Franklin's Glass Armonica

The Glass Armonica
This odd instrument in the above video was one of Benjamin Franklin's favourite inventions. Interesting. Find out more about it at the following sites.


Wikipedia entry

Images of Tchaikovsky

A collection of related images from art, album covers, cartoons, postage stamps etc..

Correct spelling of his name

Being Russian his name was originally written in the Cyrillic language thus:
Петр Ильич Чайковский.
In English this is "Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky"
An approximate translation of the name is "like a seagull".
He himself also used "Tschaikovsky" and "Tschaikowsky".
In Polish it is commonly spelled "Czajkowski".
The Library of Congress has published a long is of acceptable spellings which you can see here.

Links, sources and where to go for more information

Tchaikovsky - Research THE authoritative site.

Answers.com a compilation of reference site including an excellent entry on Wikipedia.

Arizona Opera a short bio

Favorite-classical-composers.com a biography and essays on his music

ClassicalNet a short bio

(Google Books) - Tchaikovsky by David Brown

Russian composers: profiles of more composers here at 52composers.com

New! Comments

Feel free to leave a comment. Thank you.

Custom Search

Nutcracker Google doodle

poster, prints, cards, gifts
click on image for info

Sell Art Online

Tchaikovsky gifts at Zazzle