Born: April 25, 1840 (Julian Calendar)
May 7, 1840 ( Gregorian Calendar)
Father: Mining Engineer
Mother: Alexandra (Second of his father’s
three wives)
Location: Votkinsk (Present day Udmurtia)
enrolled at the
School of
1845: At age 5,
began piano
1854: At the
age of 14
mother died. He
then composed
a waltz in her
1852: Tchaikovsky
began with a wellknown piano
teacher, Rudolph
Kundinger, from
1862: Tchaikovsky
left the Ministry to
study full time at
the St. Petersburg
1858: Tchaikovsky left school and
received employment as an undersecretary in the ministry of Justice,
where he joined the Ministry’s Choral
1866: Tchaikovsky
graduated from St.
Petersburg Conservatory.
Took a job teaching at
the Moscow
Conservatory, where he
began to compose.
1863: Anton Rubenstein,
the director of the St.
Petersburg Conservatory
began to have
Tchaikovsky study
everything including
1869: The
Tchaikovsky’s first
Opera was given
at the Bol’shoy in
#2, Little
1874: Piano
Concerto #1
1868: Tchaikovsky’s
1871: String
First Symphony was
Quartet in
heard by the public in D Major.
Moscow with great
1873: The
1877: Tchaikovsky married one of his
pupils, Antonina Milyokova. Antonina
declared her love for Tchaikovsky and
hinted at suicide if he did not take her as
his wife. Tchaikovsky was in the process
of composing Eugene Onegin, which
involved Onegin rejecting Tatiana. He
could not find it in himself to reject
Antonina like Onegin had in the story.
1875: Swan
1877: After his breakdown he
came in contact with
Madame Nadezhda von
Meck. She gave his a yearly
allowance allowing him to
give up teaching and spend
all his time composing. They
never met, but his fourth
symphony was wrote for her.
1877: Tchaikovsky and Milyokova
separated only nine weeks after.
Tchaikovsky then attempted suicide by
drowning, he was saved by his brother,
Modeste, only to suffer a nervous
breakdown. He then moved to
Switzerland to recover.
1884: After
spending much
time traveling,
produced his
1878-1884: Tchaikovsky
resigned from the
conservatory. Tortured
by his sexuality he did
not produce any music
between this time.
toured as a
conductor to
France, and
1890: While working on The
Sleeping Beauty and The Queen of
Spades, Madame Nadezhda von
Meck passed away. Tchaikovsky
was no longer supported by her,
but this was also a bad hit to his self
esteem from which he never
1891: Tchaikovsky
toured in the
United States at
many places
including Music
Hall, now
Carnegie Hall,
with great
1893: Tchaikovsky
received an
honorary doctorate
of music from
1892: The Nutcracker
died of
thought to be
a result of
drinking a
glass of
The Nutcracker Suite
• During Pyoter Tchaikovsky’s work as
a government clerk, he realized that
he would never fit in in a mainstream
job and continued on with his passion
for music.
•After he became
disillusioned by
an “unjust”
promotion, he
entered the new
Conservatory of
the Russian
Society of Music.
• Thirty years later (December
1891) Tchaikovsky had
become a well known and
respected composer. The
Imperial Opera Directorate
was so impressed with his
work, that he commissioned
the new composer to write
both a one act opera and
ballet for the following
• Tchaikovsky severely disliked the
story on which the ballet was to be
based (The Nutcracker and the
Mouse King). But he began working
on it in 1892 anyway and finished
the rest of the music that summer.
• The Ballet became world famous and is
now regarded as his best work, it is
certainly the most widely known.
Swan Lake
One of Tchaikovsky’s Most
Popular Pieces
The History of Swan Lake
• Written in 1875 for
Tchaikovsky’s friend,
Petrovich Begichev
• Begichev was manager of the
Russian Imperical Theatres in
• Tchaikovsky wrote the entire
score for 800 roubles
(equivalent to 28/29 US
• The original choreographer
was Julius Reisinger
• The most famous prima
ballerina for this production
was Pierina Legnani
Tchaikovsky and Swan Lake
• Swan Lake was Tchaikovsky’s first
• Tchaikovsky had a lot of control
over the story of Swan Lake and
its content
• After its first year of performance,
the ballet became unsuccessful
because of Tchaikovsky’s
complicated music (too hard to
dance to)
• Little evidence of the original sheet
music can be found because there
are no memos or notes left from
the piece’s creation
Tchaikovsky and Swan Lake
• This show was known to be a huge
influence on the history of ballet
• It brought about a major shift between
different cultural eras and artistic styles
• It bordered on the ideas of romanticism
and the ideas of
symbolism in the
Renovations of Swan Lake
• After Tchaikovsky’s death, Swan Lake was
redone. This is the version that is
performed all over the world today.
• However, the music from Tchaikovsky is
still used. Although his music was too
advanced for past times, the show is now
appreciated and loved for its creativeness
and emotional effectiveness.
Random Tidbits
• Tchaikovsky and his colleagues both agreed that
the swan represents womanhood in its purest
• The ancient Greeks considered the swan to be
the bird closest to the Muses
• Because Tchaikovsky’s music was so hard, one
ballerina asked that he alter his music in order to
choreograph the dances with easier steps. He
was outraged but later agreed to this, creating
the Pas de Duex in the Swan Lake we see
"I took this work partly for money,
which I need, and partly because I
have long wanted to try my hand at
this kind of music."
1812 Overture
in E Flat Major
(op. 49)
History of 1812 Overture
• One of Tchaikovsky’s
best known and most
impressive smaller
• Worked on his piece
for about a month and
it was finished on
November 19, 1880
History of 1812 Overture
• Tchaikovsky didn’t really enjoy creating the 1812
Overture and probably wouldn’t have completed
it if it wasn’t for a special occasion (Russia’s
victory over Napoleon)
•Tchaikovsky was noted
for saying he found this
piece “very loud and
Symphony No. 5
in E Minor op. 64
History of the Fifth Symphony
• Dedicated to Count
– (Chairman of the
Committee of the
Hamburg Philharmonic
• Written in 4 months
– May-August 26, 1888
History of the Fifth Symphony
• Overall theme: a man working against fate
– His second symphony based on a theme
• It was a very difficult piece for him to write
– He didn’t wait for inspiration
– Worked through with poor health and low spirit (low
self confidence)
– His low spirit shows through the despair of the music
– This is persistent throughout the piece
• Ends victoriously
– Only one of his symphonies that does
– It was also a triumph for him to accomplish the piece
Are there any questions?