Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Biography

Born: May 7, 1840; Russia   Died: Nov 6, 1893; Russia   Period: Romantic
Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky was the author of some of the most popular themes in all of classical music. He founded no school, struck out no new paths or compositional methods, and sought few innovations in his works. Yet the power and communicative sweep of his best music elevates it to classic status, even if it lacks the formal boldness and harmonic sophistication heard in the compositions of his contemporaries, Wagner and Bruckner. It was Read more Tchaikovsky's unique melodic charm that could, whether in his Piano Concerto No. 1 or in his ballet The Nutcracker or in his tragic last symphony, make the music sound familiar on first hearing.

Tchaikovsky was born into a family of five brothers and one sister. He began taking piano lessons at age four and showed remarkable talent, eventually surpassing his own teacher's abilities. By age nine, he exhibited severe nervous problems, not least because of his overly sensitive nature. The following year, he was sent to St. Petersburg to study at the School of Jurisprudence. The loss of his mother in 1854 dealt a crushing blow to the young Tchaikovsky. In 1859, he took a position in the Ministry of Justice, but longed for a career in music, attending concerts and operas at every opportunity. He finally began study in harmony with Zaremba in 1861, and enrolled at the St. Petersburg Conservatory the following year, eventually studying composition with Anton Rubinstein.

In 1866, the composer relocated to Moscow, accepting a professorship of harmony at the new conservatory, and shortly afterward turned out his First Symphony, suffering, however, a nervous breakdown during its composition. His opera The Voyevoda came in 1867-1868 and he began another, The Oprichnik, in 1870, completing it two years later. Other works were appearing during this time, as well, including the First String Quartet (1871), the Second Symphony (1873), and the ballet Swan Lake (1875).

In 1876, Tchaikovsky traveled to Paris with his brother, Modest, and then visited Bayreuth, where he met Liszt, but was snubbed by Wagner. By 1877, Tchaikovsky was an established composer. This was the year of Swan Lake's premiere and the time he began work on the Fourth Symphony (1877-1878). It was also a time of woe: in July, Tchaikovsky, despite his homosexuality, foolishly married Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova, an obsessed admirer, their disastrous union lasting just months. The composer attempted suicide in the midst of this episode. Near the end of that year, Nadezhda von Meck, a woman he would never meet, became his patron and frequent correspondent.

Further excursions abroad came in the 1880s, along with a spate of successful compositions, including the Serenade for Strings (1881), 1812 Overture (1882), and the Fifth Symphony (1888). In both 1888 and 1889, Tchaikovsky went on successful European tours as a conductor, meeting Brahms, Grieg, Dvorák, Gounod, and other notable musical figures. Sleeping Beauty was premiered in 1890, and The Nutcracker in 1892, both with success.

Throughout Tchaikovsky's last years, he was continually plagued by anxiety and depression. A trip to Paris and the United States followed one dark nervous episode in 1891. Tchaikovsky wrote his Sixth Symphony, "Pathétique," in 1893, and it was successfully premiered in October, that year. The composer died ten days later of cholera, or -- as some now contend -- from drinking poison in accordance with a death sentence conferred on him by his classmates from the School of Jurisprudence, who were fearful of shame on the institution owing to an alleged homosexual episode involving Tchaikovsky. Read less

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Matsuev
Release Date: 02/11/2014   Label: Mariinsky  
Catalog: 548   Number of Discs: 1
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Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Serenade Melancolique / Vinnikov, Menuhin
Release Date: 03/08/2011   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28320   Number of Discs: 1
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Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite, Swan Lake Suite / Simonov, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Release Date: 09/13/2011   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28060   Number of Discs: 1
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Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin / Netrebko, Beczala, Gergiev, Met
Release Date: 03/04/2014   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 1994309   Number of Discs: 2
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Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin /  Netrebko, Beczala, Gergiev, Metropolitan Opera [blu-ray]
Release Date: 03/11/2014   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 1994259  
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Work: Marche slave, Op. 31

Browse 1-25 of 125 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 1
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 541497 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Berj Zamkochian,  John Weicher,  Philip Farkas,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  New England Conservatory Alumni Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $125.98
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  • 2.
    Tchaikovsky Edition
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94650 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Derek Hammond-Stroud,  Janis Kelly,  Nikolai Vassiliev,  Alexander Arkhipov  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev,  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Yuri Simonov,  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 3.
    Bernard Haitink: The Symphony Edition [36-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002010702 Release Date: 03/11/2014   Number of Discs: 36
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Anton Bruckner,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Lucia Popp,  Carolyn Watkinson,  Peter Schreier,  Robert Holl  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Netherlands Radio Chorus,  St. Willibrod Boy's Choir  ... 
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  • 4.
    Sir Adrian Boult - The Complete Conductor
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 1927023 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Gustav Holst,  Robert Simpson,  Sir Arthur Bliss  ... 
    Performer:  Felicity Palmer
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Eugene Ormandy Conducts Tchaikovsky
    Label: Imports   Catalog: 1119166 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 6.
    Tchaikovsky: The Symphonies / Haitink, Concertgebouw [6-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001915402 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Karajan - 1970s
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001873702 Release Date: 09/03/2013   Number of Discs: 82
    Composer:  Arcangelo Corelli,  Francesco Manfredini,  Pietro Antonio Locatelli,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Brandis,  Michel Schwalbé,  Karlheinz Zöller,  Edith Mathis  ... 
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan,  Hans Priem Bergrath
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus  ... 
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  • 8.
    Label: Urania   Catalog: 22318 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Modest Mussorgsky
    Conductor:  Dimitri Mitropoulos
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  • 9.
    Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 5, Slavonic March / Poppen, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie
    Label: Oehms   Catalog: 763 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Christoph Poppen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsche Radio Philharmonie
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  • 10.
    50 Best London Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 333092 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Jeanne Loriod,  Simon Preston,  Gervase de Peyer  ... 
    Conductor:  André Previn,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    CD: $11.99
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  • 11.
    EMI Eminence - The Original Jacket Collection [50-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 393872 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  William Byrd  ... 
    Performer:  David Nolan,  Jonathan Small,  George Malcolm,  William Bennett  ... 
    Conductor:  Karl Anton Rickenbacher,  Vernon Handley,  George Guest,  George Malcolm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cambridge St. John's College Choir  ... 
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  • 12.
    Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 4, Etc / Rozhdestvensky, Et Al
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1212 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Yuri Ahronovitch,  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture; Romeo And Juliet; Marche Slave
    Label: Hi. Q   Catalog: 7 Release Date: 11/20/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  André Previn
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  • 14.
    The Art Of Valery Gergiev
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1083441 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Alexander Borodin  ... 
    Performer:  Olga Borodina,  Lang Lang,  Sergei Levitin,  Alexander Toradze  ... 
    Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kirov Theater Orchestra,  Kirov Theater Chorus,  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    Tchaikovsky: Transcriptions Vol 1 / Anthony Goldstone
    Label: Divine Art   Catalog: 25093 Release Date: 09/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Anthony Goldstone
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  • 16.
    A Musical Journey - Russia, Ukraine
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 2110290 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
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  • 17.
    Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture, Capriccio Italien, Marche Slave, Swan Lake Suite / Alwyn
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4805048 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Kenneth Alwyn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 18.
    Tchaikovsky: Complete Symphonies / Fedoseyev, Rozhdestvensky, Simonov
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94307 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev,  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Yuri Simonov,  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 19.
    Tchaikovsky: Symphony 1, Marche Slave / Pletnev, Russian National Orchestra
    Label: Pentatone   Catalog: 5186381 Release Date: 01/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Mikhail Pletnev
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 20.
    Icon: William Steinberg
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 26486 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Nathan Milstein,  Rudolf Firkusny
    Conductor:  William Steinberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $63.99
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  • 21.
    Tchaikovsky: Francesca Da Rimini; Serenade For Strings; Marche Slave
    Label: Apex   Catalog: 4675470 Release Date: 05/31/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Michael Semenoff,  Galina Gluschenka
    Conductor:  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky
    CD: $6.99
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  • 22.
    Claudio Abbado Conducts Tchaikovsky
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 7836722 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture; Liszt, Mendelssohn, Borodin, Mussorgsky / Reiner, Cso
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 70073 Release Date: 04/05/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Franz Liszt,  Dmitri Kabalevsky  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 24.
    Essential Tchaikovsky
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 07149 Release Date: 02/15/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    Performer:  Mikhail Pletnev,  Vladimir Spivakov,  Lucia Popp,  Maxim Vengerov  ... 
    Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev,  Riccardo Muti,  Herbert von Karajan,  Mstislav Rostropovich  ... 
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  • 25.
    An Evening With Leopold Stokowski / Richard Egarr, Brussels Philharmonic
    Label: Glossa   Catalog: 922209 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Pietro Antonio Cesti,  George Frideric Handel,  Henry Purcell  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard Egarr
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra
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