Pytor Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

Lauren Ullman

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Early Life

Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840 in Votkinsk, Russia to his parents, Alexandra and Ilya Petrovich. Alexandra was a very strict, distant, and self absorbed woman who wanted nothing but to return to St. Petersburg, but unfortunately for Pyotr, she didn't love him at all. Ilya who was a magistrate, didn't pay much attention to Pyotr. Tchaivosky had a large family to love more, however. It consisted of a half sister, Zinaida, an older brother, Nikolay, a younger sister, Alexandra, a younger brother, Ippolit, and twin brothers, Modest and Anatol. Tchaivosky also had a nanny named Fanny Durback, who was 22 at the time. Pyotr fell in love with music at just the age of 3. Fanny and Alexandra only wanted Pyotr to read and play with toys, rather than follow his deep love for music. That idea was crushed for the women when Ilya brought home an orchestrion, an instrument that Tchaikovsky dedicated much of his love and musical talents to.
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Map of St. Petersburg

Above is a map of St. Petersburg, the place that Tchaikovsky hated so much. Ever since she had been married (and before) Alexandra had wanted to move to St. Petersburg. In 1804, she finally got her wish, and that was the place Pyotr and his family had occupied for most of Pyotr's life. There, he attended Schmelling School, which Pyotr hated. Then at the age of 10, he was moved to School of Jurisprudence. At this school, he did very well but throughout the years we was continuously struck by home sickness. Pyotr received top marks, and lived most of his life in the city.
Lang Lang plays Tchaikovsky : Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Opus 23 [HD]

Piano Concerto No.1

Although Tchaikovsky has written many concertos, his Piano Concerto No. 1 is the most popular in our time. The Concerto starts low and repetitive, then molds into a piano solo. The piano plays solo for a majority of the music, but often it is joined by an orchestra. When Tchaikovsky first introduced his music to Nikolay Rubinstein, Nikolay said that the writing is uneven and it is extremely difficult to play. Tchaikovsky, angered by his remark, instead dedicated it to Hans Van Bulow, a pianist and conductor. Hans first played it in Boston in 1875, and the crowd loved it. It is now one of Tchaikovsky's most popular pieces.

Tchaikovsky's Other Music

  • Swan Lake
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Nutcracker
  • 1812 Overture
  • Romance in F

Tchaikovsky's Legacy

Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky is one of the more popular musicians from the Romantic period. Many of his pieces are ballets, such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Romeo and Juliet. One of his better pieces, Piano Concerto No.1, is now the best and most loved out of his many other works. He is well known for his sensitivity, but being able to overcome it and still write beautiful music. Many of his works are still frequently played today, and Tchaikovsky is still honored as one of the most famous musicians of his time.


  • Map of St. Petersburg. Illustration. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 16 Mar 2016.


  • MrOsomatsu. “Lang Lang plays Tchaikovsky : Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Opus 23 [HD].” Youtube. N.p., 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2016. <>.

  • Tchaikovsky / Portrait Photo / c.1890. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web.

16 Mar 2016.