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Life And Works Of Peter Tchaikovsky

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Life and works of Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Russia, on May 7, 1840. He was introduced to music at age 5. His father was a Ukrainian mining engineer and his mother died when he was 14 - an event that may have stimulated him to compose (http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/5648/Tchaikovsky.htm). He was forced to deal with the cold atmosphere of a military boarding school after his mother died. As such, he shied away from the harsh and brutal world and found solace in music. It was upon hearing Mozart's Don Giovanni that Tchaikovsky decided to dedicate his life to music. He went to school at the School of Jurisprudence and was a civil servant till 1861. In 1866 he was appointed professor of theory and harmony at Moscow Conservatory, which was established that year. He continued teaching there till around 1878 (Holden 12).

Abandoning his civil service position Tchaikovsky entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory to study under Anton Rubinstein. Fortunately, Tchaikovsky's father, who although disapproved of Peter's decision for a musical career, didn't interfere with his son's wishes. As a student he wrote The Storm 1864 and later in 1868, under the direction of Mily Balakirev, he composed Fatum. This work pleased Tchaikovsky but not Balakirev- the leader of the "Mighty Five." He bluntly criticized the work for its lack of continuity and natural flow and pointed to Liszt's Les Prйludes as a successful model. Tchaikovsky respecting his judgment discarded the work. The famous Romeo & Juliet would follow within a years time, again under the nurturing counsel of Balakirev.

After the woman Tchaikovsky loved married another man, he made up his mind that whoever loved him he would marry. Around that time Antonina Milyukova was writing him very passionate letters. Even though he didn't remember her from his classes, they hastily married on July 18, 1877. Very soon afterward, within days even, he regretted the decision. Two weeks after the wedding, he attempted to commit suicide by wading in a cold river. After that didn't work, he fled to Saint Petersburg, only six weeks after they had been married. They never saw each other, but never divorced. After Tchaikovsky died a married man, his widow died in an insane asylum 24 years later (http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/5648/Tchaikovsky.htm).

The more "woman of his life" was Madame Nadezhda von Meck. Between 1877 and 1890 he exchanged around 1,200 letters with her. She insisted that they never meet but they did encounter each other on 2 separate occasions, but never talked. She was a wealthy woman and sent him about 6000 rubles each year, equal to $209.88 which was a lot of money in the 1800s. She greatly admired his music. However though, after 14 years she ended the relationship very suddenly, claiming bankruptcy. It is widely disregarded though (www.stageagent.com/shows.php?id=1143). Pyotr would have done very well had he the chance to date on the Internet. Thousands of on-line dating and matchmaker services offer a highly selective process in which the seekers specify the personality, physical appearance, income bracket and other details of themselves and their potential mates. Pyotr was a handsome musician who dressed very well and had expensive taste. This successful and famous musician was also sensitive guy who wasn't afraid to cry. It was this period, 1891 and on, that Tchaikovsky achieved his success (Mayo 45-60). Unfortunately, his adorable charm began to fade when, at age seven, he proposed to the future queen of France, Marie Antoinette, and was rejected. Things got worse when his girlfriend and the love of his life forgot him after his absence during a musical tour.

Tchaikovsky wrote 3 ballets, 10 operas, 7 symphonies, and many other works including 1812 Overture and The Nutcracker Suite. "Unbridled Emotion" would perhaps best describe the music of Tchaikovsky. His deep-sensitivity saturated his music producing lush melodies that have enamored listeners for over a century.

On deeper and more personal level Tchaikovsky's neuroses, which in part stemmed from his homosexuality, often lead him to be depressed and insecure in the presence of people. Tchaikovsky's music was marked by a sensuously rhythmic pulse, and an innate melodic ability that enabled him to create some of the world's greatest ballet music. Music that shows a mixture of playful classicism and romantic verve. That he should incorporate such melodies into his symphonies prompted some critics to attack. Tchaikovsky's quick defense was simple; ballet music was by no means inferior to any other form of music. This inevitably would be affirmed by the millions of people who still rally behind his symphonies in praise (Mayo 65).

Tchaikovsky's inner conflicts perhaps give a clue to his music for he openly adored the style and grace of Mozart, yet gravitated to

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