Pyotr (pronounced Peter in English) Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, a small town in Russia, on May 7, 1840. Both of Tchaikovsky’s parents were trained in music. While Tchaikovsky, at four and a half, was initially considered too young to begin studies, his insistence convinced his teacher otherwise. He took piano lessons from the age of five, and learned to be fluent in French and German by the age of six. A good pupil, he could read music as adeptly as his teacher within three years. At age 10, he was required by his parents to spend two years boarding at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence’s preparatory school, 800 miles from his family. At 12, the minimum age for acceptance, he attended the school itself. On June 10, 1859, the 19-year-old Tchaikovsky graduated. Tchaikovsky then attended classes in music theory at the Mikhailovsky Palace (now the Russian Museum) in Saint Petersburg, which provided basic professional training in music. His Conservatory studies transformed him into a musical professional and gave him tools that helped him thrive as a composer. The first public performance of one of his works, his Characteristic Dances, boosted Tchaikovsky’s morale and was a starting point for his long and enthusiastic career as a composer, conductor, and pianist. Tchaikovsky wrote many works that are popular with the classical music public, including Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, his three ballets The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and The Sleeping Beauty, and his operas The Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin. Almost as popular are his Manfred Symphony, Francesca da Rimini, the Capriccio Italien and the Serenade for Strings. He died in 1893 at the age of 53, possibly of cholera, to which his mother had also succumbed many years before.
Note: The above biography was written by my daughter, Jennifer, as part of her senior year Trip Around the World.
Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet by Opal Wheeler
The Life Times of Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky – Masters of Music by Jim Whiting
The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky by Opal Wheeler
To Tchaikovsky’s music at THIS site.
FREE Unit Study for The Nutcracker
FREE Unit Study for Sleeping Beauty
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Make Russian Tea Cakes and serve with your favorite tea.
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