Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

March 8, 2010 at 7:22 am | Posted in Classical Composers, Music Education | Leave a comment
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On May 7, 1840, the small town of Votkinsk in the Ural Mountains of Russia congratulated the Tchaikovsky family on the birth of Piotr (Peter) Ilyich. Little did they know that he would grow up to become one the world’s most brilliant composers known around the world throughout history!

Public Domain Picture

At the age of 8, Peter’s family moved to St. Petersburg, the capital of Russia. No doubt he was influenced by the arts in this large cultural center during his youth. Peter exhibited his musical talent at a young age and through his early adulthood. Unfortunately, like many families of musicians, his parents were not thrilled with the aspect of their child studying music at the conservatory because they considered it a lowly position unworthy of their son. Peter was forced by his father to study.

Passionate about his art, Peter continued to study music while at school and continued even as he started his first law related job. He decided he had to do as his heart called him and therefore quit his job and pursued his music studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Upon graduation, he became a professor of music at the Moscow Conservatory, a school which has changed its name for him.

Wanting Tchaikovksy to be able to make a living composing music, a mysterious wealthy patroness, named Nadezhda von Meck, frequently sent him money for over a dozen years. Although a fanatic of his music, Mrs. Meck never wanted to meet Tchaikovsky in person therefore only corresponded with him via letters. Some sources say this arrangement ended abruptly after 14 years.

As Tchaikovsky’s music soured to popularity, he grew to be one of the most popular composers of the Romantic Period of music. He toured in Russia and Europe extensively at premiers of his music in major concert halls. During his one tour of America, he was a guest conductor at the opening of the amazing Carnegie Hall in New York. Mr. Tchaikovsky has been considered one of Russia’s greatest composers before and after his death on November 6, 1893.

Some of his best known works include:
Ballets ~ Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker
Operas ~ Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades
6 Symphonies ~ Favorites known as “Pathétique” and “Little Russian”
Orchestral Compositions ~ March Slav, 1812 Overture, Romeo & Juliet, Italian Cappricio
Concertos ~ Chamber Music ~ Piano & Vocal Music

If you would like to learn more about this celebrated composer, the first link below contains information, links, lesson plans, and materials for learning and teaching about Peter Tchaikovsky, author E.T.A. Hoffman, the ballet in general, and The Nutcracker. The other links are detailed lesson plans that I wrote that are part of a huge music unit introducing numerous music theory concepts through activities, games, online experiences, and lapbook / notebook materials and worksheets.

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet
Overture from the Nutcracker
The March from the Nutcracker
Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy
The Russian Dance (Trepek)


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