Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

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Pyotr Tchaikovsky , oil on canvas, 1893, Nikolai Kuznetsov, Tretyakov Gallery
Tchaikovski's signature

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky ( Russian Пётр Ильич Чайковский listen ? / I , scientific transliteration Pëtr Il'ič Čajkovskij ; born April 25, jul. / 7. May 1840 greg. In Votkinsk , Russian Empire ; † October 25 jul. / November 6 1893 greg. In Saint Petersburg , Russian Empire), also Pyotr Tchaikovsky , German Peter Tschaikowsky or Tschaikowski , was a RussianAudio file / audio sample   Composer . Many of his works became internationally known during his lifetime. Today they are among the most important of romanticism . In Russia today he is considered the most important composer of the 19th century, although he did not belong to the group of five , but continued Anton Rubinstein's school, which was shaped by Western influences .

Tchaikovsky's most famous compositions include his last three symphonies, the violin concerto , his first piano concerto (1875, in B flat minor), the 1812 overture and his opera Eugene Onegin . With Swan Lake , Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker , he also wrote three of the most famous ballets in music history.


Early Years (1840–1861)

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was the second son of a mining engineer and his second wife Alexandra Andreevna, the granddaughter of a French immigrant named Michel d'Assier. In addition to Pyotr, this marriage resulted in the children Nikolai, Alexandra, Ippolit (Hippolyt) and the twins Anatoli and Modest . The family's musical inclinations were not very pronounced. Nonetheless, Tchaikovsky received piano lessons at the age of four at his request. From 1844 Tchaikovsky's parents employed the French governess Fanny Dürbach (1822–1901), who exerted a great influence on Tchaikovsky's development and with whom he remained in contact throughout his life. Tchaikovsky was already writing poetry at this time and was called le petit Pouchkine ("Little Pushkin ") by Fanny Dürbach .

The first music that shaped him came from a mechanical piano his father had brought with him from Petersburg - Peter, not even five years old, was delighted. The first time his mother made him play scales on a piano, he was already playing a piece he'd heard. The family was amazed at his talent, so his father hired Maria Palchikova to give his son piano lessons. Peter soon played better from sight than his piano teacher.

Since the parents had planned a career in civil service for their son, Tchaikovsky attended the law school in Saint Petersburg from 1850 to 1859 and then worked in the Ministry of Justice. During this time, he granted himself further musical training in private piano lessons with the pianist Rudolf Kündinger , who came from Nördlingen and who had emigrated to Russia . He wrote about Tchaikovsky:

“He was undoubtedly very talented, had a keen ear and a good memory, but one could not yet deduce from this that he would one day become a great pianist, let alone a famous composer [...] The only thing with which he draws my attention something more captivating were his improvisations. "

Kündinger was right on one point: Tchaikovsky did not become a pianist because the eight years of piano lessons (as a child and as a budding music student) were not enough - it was no coincidence that his piano concertos were premiered by others.

One suspects that Tchaikovsky was also influenced by an Italian singing teacher named Luigi Piccioli. He thought nothing of Bach and Mozart , but was very familiar with Italian opera and prompted Tchaikovsky to publish his first work, an Italian canzonette under the title Mezza notte.


Although Tchaikovsky's official status offered Tchaikovsky a good living, which enabled him to indulge in all sorts of costly amusements, in 1861 he became weary of this life. He, who until then had only mediocre musical knowledge, began studying music - a step that did not meet with understanding from all family members. His uncle Peter Petrovich commented: “This Peter. That worthless Peter! Now he has switched jurisprudence for the bagpipes! ”And his brother Modest later noted in his memoirs:

“Whether the oversaturation suddenly awakened in him - perhaps under the impression of some unknown event, or whether it gradually crept into his soul, nobody knows, because Peter Ilyich got through those difficult hours all by himself. His surroundings only noticed something of this when the change had already taken place. "

In 1862 Tchaikovsky entered the Petersburg Conservatory founded by Anton Rubinstein . Rubinstein personally instructed him in composition and instrumentation . Tchaikovsky received theoretical lessons from the Russian composer Nikolai Ivanovich Saremba . With great determination he tried to make up for the lack of knowledge in the field of composition. In a letter dated December 4, Jul. / December 16, 1862 greg. he wrote to his sister:

“I had already written to you that I had started to learn the theory of music, and I did so very successfully. [...] I fear only for my lack of character; in the end my indolence will prevail, but if not, I promise you that something will come of me. Fortunately, it's not too late yet. "

Nikolai Grigoryevich Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky's teacher

In 1866 he moved to Moscow . Tchaikovsky found a place to stay with Anton Rubinstein's brother Nikolai Rubinstein . He let the now penniless musician live with him, replaced his worn out suit with new clothing and placed him as a lecturer at the Moscow Conservatory .

The first successful compositions were written in Moscow, including the 1st symphony and the overture Romeo and Juliet , which the composer Mili Balakirew had suggested and in which Tchaikovsky uses elements of the sonata form. Tchaikovsky reacted very sensitively to criticism of his works at the time: The operas Der Wojewode (premiered in 1869 without the hoped-for response), in which, like the members of the Group of Five , he used a typical Russian musical language and quoted Russian folk songs, and Undina (performance was refused) he burned immediately in response to the failure, but later used parts from Undina for his next opera The Opritschnik . Numerous testimonials show that he became increasingly depressed and neurotic . His secret homosexuality was an emotional burden for him. Nevertheless, there was almost another turn in his life in 1868: after he had met the singer Désirée Artôt , he told his father that he wanted to marry her. But nothing came of that, Tchaikovsky's friends and the bride's mother thwarted the connection. In 1869 Artôt married a Spanish baritone.


Tchaikovsky (around 1874)

Tchaikovsky moved out of Rubinstein's house in 1871. He continued to teach at the Moscow Conservatory and composed his 2nd symphony as well as some operas, which met with divided feedback. The world premiere of his opera Der Opritschnik (“The Bodyguard”) in 1874, in which Ukrainian folk songs are used and which the English musicologist Gerald Abraham described in the 20th century as “a thorough translation of Meyerbeer into Russian”, caused Tchaikovsky agony. He wrote to his student Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev :

“The opera is so bad that I couldn't stand it during rehearsals and ran away to hear no more sound; in the imagination I felt as if I had to sink in shame. "


Middle-aged Tchaikovsky

The most significant composition for his life from the Moscow years is the 1st Piano Concerto op. 23 in B flat minor . Tchaikovsky wrote it in 1874 and played it to his friend Nikolai Rubinstein, to whom it should also be dedicated. The shock over Rubinstein's reaction was so lasting that Tchaikovsky wrote three years later in a letter to his patron Nadezhda von Meck :

“I played the first set. Not a word, not a comment ... I found the strength to play the whole concert through. Still silence. ,Now?' I asked as I got up from the piano. A stream of words poured out of Rubinstein's mouth. At first gently, as if trying to gather strength, and finally breaking out with the force of Jupiter Tonans. My concert is worthless, completely unplayable. The passages are so fragmented, incoherent and poorly composed that even improvements are not enough. The composition itself is bad, trivial, vulgar. Here and there I would have stolen from others. Perhaps a page or two is worth saving; the rest must be destroyed or completely recomposed. "

Rubinstein suggested that the concert be completely revised. Tchaikovsky did not change a note, put the score into a package and sent it to the conductor and pianist Hans von Bülow , who was known for “spicing up his programs with more modern works”. Hans von Bülow had no objection to the work and sat at the piano himself when it was first performed in Boston in 1875 . The response from the audience was overwhelming. Rubinstein later also changed his negative opinion.

The 3rd symphony and the ballet Swan Lake , which premiered in 1877 under adverse circumstances, were also composed during this period . The musically and technically demanding ballet had been greatly simplified by the performers of the Moscow Bolshoi Theater and in this form fell through with the audience and the critics, as a result of which it was rarely performed and always with moderate success for a long time. Tchaikovsky always refused to make any major changes. The work only became a ballet classic after his death, based on a trend-setting production by Marius Petipa , Lev Ivanov and Riccardo Drigo with the authorization of Tchaikovsky's brother Modest in 1895.

In his free time, Tchaikovsky traveled to various cities in Europe, including Naples and Paris . A visit to the premiere of Der Ring des Nibelungen in Bayreuth aroused the greatest displeasure with Tchaikovsky. He wrote to his brother Modest:

“The piling up of the most complicated and elaborate harmonies, the colorlessness of the singing on the stage, the infinitely long monologues and dialogues, the darkness of the auditorium, the absence of any poetry, any interest in the plot - all of this tired my nerves to the last degree. So that is what Wagner's reform strives for! In the past you tried to please people with music - but nowadays you torture them. "

In Bayreuth, however, Tchaikovsky first became aware that his reputation as a composer extended beyond the borders of Russia.

Crisis year 1877

Nadeschda von Meck

1877 was the year of the composer's worst internal crisis. In early 1877 he met Nadezhda von Meck (1831-1894) for the first time . She was the rich widow of the Baltic German Karl von Meck, who died in 1876. She showed a great sense of art and later also supported Claude Debussy financially for a while. Tchaikovsky and Ms. von Meck cultivated an intimate pen friendship for years. But the composer was always careful not to meet Frau von Meck. When in 1879 a fleeting encounter occurred while on a carriage ride, Tchaikovsky avoided her and did not speak to her. Despite the multiple financial support from Ms. von Meck, there were always financial bottlenecks.

During this time Tchaikovsky also had a romantic love affair with Iosif Kotek , one of his former students at the Moscow Conservatory , who was employed as a private musician by Nadezhda von Meck. In a letter to his brother Modest in January 1877, Tchaikovsky described his feelings in detail:

“I'm in love like I haven't been in a long time… I've known him for six years. I've always liked him and I've been about to fall in love a few times. [...] Now I've made the jump and irrevocably surrendered. When I hold his hand for hours and torment myself not to fall at his feet [...] the passion seizes me with overwhelming force, my voice trembles like that of a youth and I just talk nonsense. "

Tchaikovsky (right) with Iosif Kotek , 1877

At the end of April or beginning of May 1877, Tchaikovsky received a letter from Antonina Ivanovna Milyukova, who was unknown to him, in which she claimed that she had already met him at the conservatory. In further letters she threatened suicide if he did not meet her. Tchaikovsky finally gave in to her urge, also because he had a certain understanding of her desperate love and felt pity for her. Biographers suspect that Tchaikovsky also liked the idea of ​​being able to distract from his homosexuality by marrying a woman. The marriage of the two took place on July 18, 1877. It was agreed that they would practice fraternal marriage. However, the relationship lasted barely three months. It turned out that she had only learned to play the piano for one year at the conservatory and, according to her teacher, Professor Eduard Langer and music writer Nikolai Dimitriewitsch Kaschkin , she completely lacked musical skills and an understanding of the meaning and content of music.

Tchaikovsky complained in retrospect that there was nothing in common. Antonia Ivanovna's memories show that his affection for her was shattered by the whisperings and opinions of family and friends. After three weeks of being together at home, Tchaikovsky is said to have sneaked up to the Moscow River at night and gone into deep water, but returned later and explained that he was completely soaked by accidentally falling into the river. However, this incident is now referred to as anecdote. In fact, the already unstable Tchaikovsky suffered immensely from the wrong game. In a later letter, Tchaikovsky confesses:

“No sooner had the wedding ceremony taken place, no sooner had I been alone with my wife and no sooner had I realized that fate was inextricably linked, when I suddenly realized that I wasn't even friendship, but in the truest sense of the word reluctance to feel against her . Death seemed the only way out to me, but suicide was out of the question. "

The arguments between the couple and the reenactments by Milyukova after the breakup were a nightmare for Tchaikovsky. However, the marriage never ended in divorce.

Tchaikovsky recovered from these events in Kamjanka (now Ukraine ) on his sister's estate and during an almost month-long stay in Clarens on Lake Geneva . There he developed his only violin concerto with Kotek . Like his 1st piano concerto, this work also met with reservations from his musicians, for example from Leopold Auer , who was intended to be the soloist for the world premiere, and who dismissed the concerto as “unplayable”. Once again Tchaikovsky was not deterred, the premiere of the concert with Adolph Brodsky as soloist two years later in Vienna was a great success. His patroness, Mrs. von Meck, issued him an annual pension of 6,000 rubles during this time , which made him financially more independent. So he could finally afford to cancel his appointment as Russian representative at the Paris World Exhibition in 1878 and to undertake further trips, for example to France and Italy.

The music critic

From 1871 Tchaikovsky began working as a music critic . His reviews often did not correspond to traditional assessments. So he meant about

"I can say that I like playing Bach because playing a good fugue is entertaining, but I don't see him as a great genius [...]" (1879)
“I am not inclined to proclaim the principle of Beethoven's infallibility, and even if I do not in the least deny its great historical importance, I still consider the unconditional and natural astonishment at each of his works to be inappropriate. But it is indisputable that Beethoven reached a height in some of his symphonic works at which no or at least almost no other composer stands next to him. "(1871)
“Gounod's artistic work is a mystery to me in general. There is no doubt that Faust was composed with great mastery, which, if not ingenious, at least betrays individual character. But everything he wrote after Faust is weak, lacking in talent. "(1878)
“His compositions leave me cold; they reveal more poetic intentions than real creative power, more color than form, more external brilliance than internal content, in stark contrast to Robert Schumann […]. "(1881)
"This son of the sunny south sinned a lot in his art by flooding the whole world with his absurd organ organ melodies, but much must be forgiven him for the undoubted talent, the intimacy of feeling that is inherent in each of the Verdian compositions."

Other composers such as Hector Berlioz , Joachim Raff , Georges Bizet , Alexander Borodin , Michail Glinka (“a giant in the cloak of amateurism ”) and Edvard Grieg (“better than Johannes Brahms ”), however, expressly praised Tchaikovsky.

Edvard Grieg and his wife Nina were close friends with Peter Tchaikovsky. Although his classical style could not be compared with that of Grieg, even then critics discovered a kind of "musical soul kinship". In France there was even talk of Russian and Norwegian dominance in classical music at the end of the 19th century.

Last years

Portrait from 1888 for Nina Grieg

The years 1878-1884 are referred to as Tchaikovsky's creative low, although he was promoted by his publishers Mackar and Jurgenson and wrote other works. From 1879 he composed the works The Maiden of Orléans , Capriccio Italy , the 2nd Piano Concerto in G major op.44 (it was premiered with the pianist Sergej Taneyev in Moscow), the Concert Fantasy for piano and orchestra, the Mazeppa opera and the Manfred Symphony . Tchaikovsky's most famous opera, Eugene Onegin , premiered on March 29, 1879 in Moscow's Maly Theater .

The social rise of Tchaikovsky began in 1884 when he after a performance of Mazeppa by Tsar Alexander III. received the Order of Vladimir fourth class and had to return to Russia from Paris in March for this purpose. In 1887 Tchaikovsky discovered his talent as a conductor. This was followed by concert tours through Europe, including in Berlin , Prague and London , and later in Dresden , Cologne and Frankfurt am Main . An international tour took him to New York , Philadelphia and Baltimore in 1891 . From 1888 he wrote the 5th Symphony in E minor, Op. 64, the ballet Sleeping Beauty , the Hamlet overture , the opera Queen of Spades and the ballet The Nutcracker .

In the year of his death in 1893, Tchaikovsky composed the (unfinished) 3rd Piano Concerto in E flat major and the 6th Symphony in B minor, Op. 74 Pathétique , which he conducted himself for the first time on October 28th.

Sudden death

German special postage stamp for the 100th anniversary of death

Tchaikovsky died surprisingly on October 25th July. / November 6, 1893 greg. at the age of 53 in St. Petersburg. A few days earlier he had conducted his Pathétique . Modest Tchaikovsky later noted:

“In the last few days his mood of the soul was neither exclusively happy nor particularly depressed. In the company of his intimate friends he was cheerful and content, in the company of strangers, as usual, he was nervous and excited and later exhausted and withered. Nothing gave reason to think of the approaching death. "

- Modest Tchaikovsky

The cause of death has not yet been clearly clarified. There are two views. According to Jurij Davydov, Tchaikovsky was infected with cholera , which was rampant in St. Petersburg at the time , when he carelessly drank a glass of unboiled water in a restaurant on October 20 . Modest Tchaikovsky mentions that his brother drank a glass of unboiled water for lunch the following day. One argument against this explanation is that some - possibly alcoholized - friends are said to have said goodbye with a kiss on the lips of the corpse, which, like the dead man's open coffin, corresponds to a typical Russian tradition , but only happens when there is a risk of infection is low. On the other hand, the apartment and body had been disinfected beforehand, and the coffin was locked that same evening.

According to the other thesis put forward by Alexandra Orlowa from 1979 onwards, Tchaikovsky poisoned himself with arsenic , which may have been ingested with the above-mentioned glass of water. Allegedly he was ordered to commit suicide by a "court of honor" consisting of members of the St. Petersburg School of Law, where he himself studied, with reference to his homosexuality . This thesis spread particularly in the English-speaking world, especially since David Brown adopted it in his article in the encyclopedia The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians . Indeed, the symptoms of arsenic poisoning partly overlap with those of cholera. However, in his 1998 book on Tchaikovsky's death, Alexander Poznansky demonstrated various inconsistencies in this theory. The result of his documentary investigations, according to which Tchaikovsky died of uremia as a result of Asian cholera, is now widely accepted by international Tchaikovsky research. Retrospective medical studies also largely follow this conclusion.

His grave is in the Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in Saint Petersburg.


Stage works


  • The voivode (Воевода) , 1867/68, destroyed by the composer
  • Undina ( Ундина , also Undine ), 1869, only fragments preserved
  • The Opritschnik ( Опричник , "The Bodyguard"), opera in four acts based on Ivan Iwanowitsch Laschetschnikow (1870–1872; libretto: P. Tchaikovsky; world premiere : St. Petersburg 1874)
  • Wakula the Blacksmith (Кузнец Вакула) , opera in three acts after Gogol op.14 (1874; libretto: JP Polonski; first performance: St. Petersburg 1876)
    • Recast in four acts entitled Tscherewitschki (Черевички) or slippers or Oksana's whims (1885; first performance: Moscow 1887)
  • Eugene Onegin (Евгений Онегин) , opera in three acts after Pushkin op. 24 (1877/1878; libretto: P. Tschaikowski and KS Schilowski; world premiere: Moscow 1879)
  • The Maiden of Orléans , opera in four acts after Schiller (1878/1879; libretto: P. Tschaikowski; world premiere: St. Petersburg 1881)
  • Mazeppa , opera in three acts based on Pushkin (1881–1883; libretto: WP Burenin; first performance: Moscow 1884)
  • The Sorceress ( Чародейка , Tscharodeika ), opera in four acts based on Ippolit Wasiliewitsch Schpaschinsky (1885–1887; libretto: IW Schpaschinski; first performance: St. Petersburg 1887)
  • Queen of Spades , opera in three acts after Pushkin op.68 (1890; libretto: M. and P. Tchaikovsky; world premiere: St. Petersburg 1890)
  • Jolanthe , opera in one act after Hertz op.69 (1891; libretto: M. Tschaikowski; world premiere: St. Petersburg 1892)


  • Swan Lake , ballet in four acts op.20 (1875/1876; libretto: Wladimir P. Begitschew and Wassili Geltzer; world premiere: Moscow 1877)
  • Sleeping Beauty , ballet in three acts based on Perrault op.66 (libretto: Iwan Alexandrowitsch Vsewoloschski; first performance: St. Petersburg 1890)
  • The Nutcracker , ballet in two acts based on ETA Hoffmann op.71 (libretto: Marius Petipa ; world premiere: St. Petersburg 1892)

Incidental music

  • Music for the play The False Dmitri and Vasily Schuiski von Ostrowski : Introduction and Mazurka (1867)
  • Music for the play The Barber of Seville by Beaumarchais (1872)
  • Music for the play Snow Maiden by Ostrowski op.12 (1873)
  • Music for the play Der Wojewode von Ostrowski : Monologue for woodwinds, harp and string orchestra (1886)
  • Music for the play Hamlet for small orchestra op.67a (1891)

Orchestral works


Other orchestral works:

  • Allegro vivo in E major for small orchestra (1863/1864)
  • Allegro ma non tanto in G major for string orchestra (1863/1864)
  • Andante ma non troppo - Allegro moderato in A major for small orchestra (1863/1864)
  • Agitato - Allegro in C minor for small orchestra (1863/1864)
  • Concert Overture in C minor (1865/1866)
  • Overture in F major for small orchestra (1865), for large orchestra (1866)
  • Danish Overture in D major op.15 on the Danish national anthem (1866)
  • Das Gewitter, Overture in E minor to Ostrowski's drama op.posth. 76 (1866/1867)
  • Fatum, symphonic poem in G minor op.posth. 77 (1868)
  • Romeo and Juliet , Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare (1869; reworked 1870 and 1880)
  • The Tempest, Fantasy in F minor after Shakespeare op.18 (1873)
  • Suite from the ballet Der Schwanensee op.20 (1876)
  • Slavonic March in B flat minor op.31 (1876)
  • Francesca da Rimini , Fantasy in E minor after Dante op.32 (1876/1877)
  • Suite No. 1 in D minor, Op. 43 (1878/1879)
  • Capriccio Italy op.45 (1880)
  • Serenade in C major for string orchestra op.48 (1880)
  • Overture solennelle "1812" , Festival Overture op. 49 (1880; Finale for piano solo)
  • Suite No. 2 in C major op. 53 "Suite charactéristique" (1883)
  • Suite No. 3 in G major op.55 (1884)
  • Coronation March in D major (1883)
  • Elegy in honor of IW Samarin in G major (1884)
  • Jurists March in D major (1885)
  • Suite No. 4 in G major op. 61 "Mozartiana" (1887), quoted among others the Gigue KV 574 and the Ave verum corpus ( KV 618)
  • Hamlet, Fantasy Overture in F minor after Shakespeare op.67 (1888)
  • The Voivode, Symphonic Ballad in A minor op.posth. 78 (1891)
  • Suite from the ballet The Nutcracker op.71a (1892)

Works for solo instrument and orchestra:

Chamber music

  • Adagio in F major for wind octet (1863/1864)
  • Allegro in C minor for piano sextet (1863/1864)
  • Adagio molto in E flat major for string quartet and harp (1863/1864)
  • Allegro vivace in B flat major for string quartet (1863/1864)
  • Andante molto in G major for string quartet (1863/1864)
  • Andante ma non troppo in E minor for string quartet (1863/1864)
  • Allegretto in E major for string quartet (1863/1864)
  • Adagio in C major for wind quartet (1863/1864)
  • Allegretto in D major for string trio (1863/1864)
  • String Quartet in B flat major in one movement (1865)
  • String Quartet No. 1 in D major op.11 (1871)
  • Serenade in D major on the name day by Nikolai Rubinstein for flute, two clarinets, horn, bassoon and string quartet (1872)
  • String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 22 (1874)
  • String Quartet No. 3 in E flat minor, Op. 30 (1876)
  • Three pieces for violin and piano "Souvenir d'un lieu cher" op. 42 (1878; orchestrated by A.Glasunow )
  • Piano trio in A minor "À la mémoire d'un grand artiste" op. 50 (1881/1882)
  • String sextet in D minor "Souvenir de Florence" op. 70 (1890; revised 1891/1892)

Piano works

Piano for two hands

  • Theme and Variations in A minor (1863/1864)
  • Sonata in C sharp minor op.posth. 80 (1865)
  • Two pieces op. 1 (1863–1867)
  • Souvenir de Hapsal op.2 (1867)
  • Valse-Caprice in D major op.4 (1868)
  • Romance in F minor op.5 (1868)
  • Valse-Scherzo in A major op.7 (1870)
  • Capriccio in G flat major op.8 (1870)
  • Three pieces op.9 (1870)
  • Two pieces op.10 (1871)
  • Six pieces op.19 (1873)
  • Six Pieces on a Theme, Op. 21 (1873)
The seasons: January
  • The Seasons , twelve character pieces op. 37a (1875/1876), orchestrated by Alexander Gauk ; also as op. 37b or op. 37bis
  • March " Voluntary Fleet " in C major (1878)
  • Great Sonata in G major op.37 (1878)
  • Children's album (youth album ) op.39 - 24 easy pieces (1878)
  • Twelve Pieces, Op. 40 (1878)
Twelve pieces, op.40 (excerpt)
  • Six pieces op.51 (1882)
  • Impromptu-Caprice in G major (1884)
  • Dumka , Ukrainian village scene in C minor, Op. 59 (1886)
  • Waltz Scherzo in A major (1889)
  • Impromptu A flat major (1889)
  • Avei passionné in E minor (1891?), Origin disputed
  • Military March in B flat major (1893)
  • Eighteen pieces op.72 (1892)
  • The wind does not shake the branches , piano part for the folk song (1893)

Piano for four hands

  • Fifty Russian Folk Songs (1868/1869)

Vocal instrumental works

Singing voice and / or choir and orchestra

  • On the coming sleep for mixed choir and orchestra in C minor (1863/1864)
  • To Joy , cantata for solo voices, choir and orchestra after Schiller (1865)
  • Cantata to commemorate the 200th birthday of Tsar Peter the Great for tenor, mixed choir and orchestra (1872)
  • Cantata for the 50th anniversary of OA Petrow for tenor, mixed choir and orchestra based on NA Nekrasov (1875)
  • Moscow , coronation cantata for mezzo-soprano, baritone, mixed choir and orchestra after Maikow (1883)


Don Juan Serenade (six romances, op.38, 1878), text by Alexei Konstantinowitsch Tolstoy , sung by Mario Ancona (recording: 1904)
  • My genius, my angel, my friend - Fet (before 1860)
  • Semphira's Song - Pushkin (early 1860s)
  • Six Romances, Op. 6 (1869; the sixth romance is based on a translation of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's apprenticeship years into Russian by Lev Alexandrowitsch Mei )
  • Forgotten so quickly - Apuchtin (1870)
  • Six romances op.16 (1875)
  • Take My Heart - Fet (1873)
  • Six romances op.25 (1875)
  • Six romances op.27 (1875)
  • Six romances op.28 (1875)
  • I want my pains to pour out - Mey after Heine (1875)
  • We won't walk long - Grekow (1875)
  • Six romances op.38 (1878)
  • Six Duets op.46 (1880)
  • Seven Romances op.47 (1880)
  • Romeo and Juliet , scene with duet (1881), finished in 1893 and orchestrated by S. Taneyev
  • Sixteen Children's Songs op.54 (1883)
  • Six romances op.57 (1883)
  • Twelve Romances, Op. 60 (1886)
  • Six romances op.63 (1887)
  • Six songs op.65 on French text (1888)
  • Six Romances op.73 on German text (1893)

Vocal works

  • On the coming sleep for mixed choir in C minor (1863/1864)
  • Hymn of the Cherubim for mixed choir (1878)
  • Choir on the 50th anniversary of the School of Law for mixed choir in B flat major (1885)
  • The Angel Exults for mixed choir in G major (1887)
  • The golden cloud fell asleep for mixed choir in F minor (1887)
  • Greetings to A. Rubinstein for mixed choir in C major (1889)
  • The Nightingale for mixed choir in D major (1889)
  • Not the cuckoo in the damp spruce forest for mixed choir in G major (1891)
  • Evening for three-part male choir in G major (1881)
  • Happy is he who smiles for four-part male choir in F major (1887)
  • Why withhold the voices of joy? for male choir in B flat major (1891)
  • Without time for four-part female choir in E minor (1891)
  • Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom , 14 numbers for mixed choir op.41 (1878)
  • Night Vespers , 17 choirs for mixed choir op.52 (1881/1882)
  • Nine church choirs for mixed four-part choir (1884/1885)
  • Hymn in honor of Saints Cyril and Methodius for mixed choir in F major (1885)
  • Die Nacht for four solo voices (SATB) with piano accompaniment based on Mozart's piano fantasy KV 475 (1893)

Transcriptions and orchestrations

  • The Voivode op.3, for voice and piano (1868)
  • The Voivode op.3, potpourri for piano (1868)
  • The Voivode op.3, for piano four hands (1868)
  • Symphony No. 2 op.17, for piano four hands (1872)
  • Romance op.16 No. 5, for piano (before 1873)
  • Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 23, for two pianos (1874)
  • The Opritschnik , for voice and piano (1874)
  • Melancholic Serenade op.26, for violin and piano (1875)
  • Slavonic March op.31, for piano (1876)
  • Danish Overture op.15, for piano 4 hands (1878)
  • Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom op.41 - for piano (1878)
  • Orchestral Suite No. 1 op.43, for piano four hands (1878)
  • Eugene Onegin , for voice and piano (1878)
  • Piano Concerto No. 2 op.44, for two pianos (1880)
  • Capriccio Italy op.45, for piano 4 hands (1883)
  • Serenade op.48, for piano 4 hands (1880)
  • Orchestral Suite No. 2 op.53, for piano four hands (1883)
  • Mazeppa , for voice and piano (1883)
  • Children's song op.54 No. 5, for voice and orchestra (1884)
  • Romance op.47 no.7, for voice and orchestra (1884)
  • Orchestral Suite No. 3 op.55, for piano four hands (1884)
  • Moscow , for voice and piano (before 1885)
  • Pezzo capriccioso op.62 , for violoncello and piano (1887)
  • The Sorceress , for voice and piano (1887)
  • Andante cantabile, 2nd movement from the string quartet No. 1 op.11, for cello and string orchestra (1888?)
  • Nocturne op.19 No. 4, for violoncello and orchestra (1888)
  • Duet op.46 No. 6, for voice and orchestra (1888)
  • Children's song op.54 No. 5, for mixed choir a cappella (1889).
  • Queen of Spades op.68, two versions for voice and piano (1890)
  • Jolanthe op.69 , for voice and piano (1892)
  • The Nutcracker op.71, for piano (published as op.71b; 1892)
  • Symphony No. 6 op.74, for piano four hands (1893)
  • Piano Concerto No. 3, Op. 75, for two pianos (1893)
  • Weber : Menuetto capriccioso from the Piano Sonata op.39 No. 2, for orchestra (1863)
  • Beethoven : Allegro of the Violin Sonata op.47 , for violin and orchestra (1863/1864)
  • Beethoven : 1st movement from the Piano Sonata op.13 No. 2, for orchestra (1863/1864)
  • Schumann : Adagio and Allegro brillante (Nos. 11 and 12 of the Symphonic Etudes op.13), for orchestra (1863/1864)
  • Gungl : Le Retour , for orchestra (1863/1864; unfinished)
  • Dubuque : Maria-Dagmar , for orchestra (1886)
  • Dubuque : Memories of Love , for piano four hands (1866/1867)
  • Dargomyschski : Kasatschok , for piano (1867)
  • Auber : additions to the opera Le domino noir (1868)
  • Fifty Russian Folk Songs, for piano four hands (1869)
  • Rubinstein : Ivan the Terrible , for piano four hands (1869)
  • Stradella : O del mio dolce ardor , for voice and orchestra (1870)
  • Cimarosa : trio from the opera Il matrimonio segreto , for orchestra (1870?)
  • Rubinstein : Don Quixote , for piano four hands (1871)
  • Children's songs on Russian and Ukrainian melodies, for voice and piano (1872 and 1877)
  • Haydn : God preserve Franz the Kaiser , for orchestra (1874?)
  • Schumann : Ballade for Heideknaben, Op. 122 No. 1, for speaker and orchestra (1874)
  • Liszt : The King of Thule , for voice and orchestra (1874)
  • Gaudeamus igitur , for male choir with piano accompaniment (1874)
  • Mozart : Figaro's wedding , changes to some recitatives (1875)
  • Dargomyschski : Die goldene Wolke slept , for vocal choir (STB) and orchestra (1876)
  • Glinka : Slawsja (choir from A Life for the Tsar ), for unison choir and string orchestra (1883)
  • Laroche: Fantasy Overture from Marmosina , for piano and orchestra (1888)
  • Menter : Hungarian gypsy tunes , for piano and orchestra (1892/1893)
  • Valse-Scherzo in C major op.34, for violin and piano
  • Liszt : Orchestration of the piano concerto in the Hungarian style

Fragments and lost works

  • Anastasie-Valse for piano (1854), lost
  • Mezza notte , song for high voice on Italian text (early 1860s), lost
  • Near the river, near the bridge for piano (1862), lost
  • The Romans in the Colosseum , incidental music (1863/1864), lost
  • Boris Godunow , incidental music for a scene based on AS Pushkin (1863/1864), lost
  • Oratorio for solo voices, mixed choir and orchestra (1863/1864), lost
  • Allegro in F minor for piano (1863/1864), sketches
  • Character dances, included as "Dances and Country Girls" in the opera Der Wojewode (1865), lost
  • A complicated story , incidental music for PS Fedorov's comedy (1867), lost
  • The Voivode , opera in three acts based on AN Ostrowski op.3 (1867/1868; libretto: AN Ostrowski and PI Tchaikovsky; first performance: Moscow 1869), the following items have been preserved: overture, inter-act music and ballet music, reconstructed by PA Lamm and WJ Schebalin
  • Undine , opera in 3 acts (1869; libretto: WA Sollogub ; premiere of the fragments: Moscow 1870 ), destroyed, some parts used in other compositions
  • Mandragora , opera based on SA Ratschinski (1869/1879), only the “Choir of Flowers and Insects” for choir and orchestra has survived
  • Nature and Love for two sopranos, alto, female choir and piano in G flat major (1870), Lost
  • The blue spring eyes , song after Heine (1873), lost
  • Funeral march on motifs from the opera Der Opritschnik for piano (1877), lost
  • Die Fee , incidental music for the play by O. Felier, Lullaby and Waltz (1879), Lost
  • Montenegro , music for the living picture “Reading of the Manifesto for Russia's Declaration of War on Turkey”, for small orchestra (1880), lost
  • Cantata for four-part female choir a cappella (1880).
  • Romeo and Juliet , an opera based on Shakespeare (early 1880s), only started a duet by Romeo and Juliet, which is based in places on music from the orchestral fantasy of the same name , the duet is completed by Sergei Taneyev (1894)
  • Concert piece for flute and orchestra (1883), some themes
  • Sleeping Beauty , suite for orchestra (1889/1890), sketches
  • Symphony in E flat major (1891/1892), unfinished, only the first movement orchestrated, movements 1, 2 and 4 op.75 and op.79, 3rd movement Scherzo-Fantasy op.72 No. 10 for piano, orchestrated (1955 ) by S. Bogatyrijew and published as Symphony No. 7
  • Momento lirico (Impromptu) for piano in A flat major (1892/1893), completed by Sergei Taneyev
  • Spring , women's choir a cappella, lost


One of the most important international competitions for young musicians, which is held in Moscow every four years, is named after him, the Tchaikovsky Competition .

The Tchaikovsky Museum in Klin , opened in 1894, is the oldest music memorial in Russia.

In Russia, the city of Tchaikovsky was named after him. The asteroid (2266) Tchaikovsky and Mount Tchaikovsky on Alexander I Island in Antarctica also bear his name.

Tchaikovsky is mentioned in the rock 'n' roll classic Roll Over Beethoven (1956) and in various rock songs , e. B. Let There Be Rock by AC / DC (1977) or Disco in Moscow by Die Toten Hosen (1986).

He was immortalized on a modern Russian gold coin .

Hundreds of Tchaikovsky's letters proving his homosexuality have not been edited in Russia for a long time.

The materials and collectibles of the former Tchaikovsky Studio (Hamburg), which was built and looked after by Louisa von Westernhagen from 1952 to 1975, are in the Tübingen University Library (shelf number: Mk 94).



  1. Tchaikovsky (Чайковский, Soviet Union 1969), directed by Igor Wassiljewitsch Talankin with Innokenti Michailowitsch Smoktunowski as Tchaikovsky
  2. Tchaikovsky - Genie und Wahnsinn ( The Music Lovers , Great Britain 1970), directed by Ken Russell , film by Melvyn Bragg with Richard Chamberlain as Tchaikovsky and Glenda Jackson as his wife.
  3. It was a glittering ball night (Germany 1939), directed by Carl Froelich , film with Hans Stüwe as Tchaikovsky and Zarah Leander as his wife.

Individual evidence

  1. Duden states about Tchaikovsky : “The composer's own writing, according to the usual transcription system actually Tchaikovsky  ”. In German-language literature, both spellings are used, with the spelling with -y predominating. In the internationally oriented trade in CDs and music, spellings in -y are common: Tchaikovsky or Tchaikovsky in English . There are also less common spelling variants, e.g. B. Tchaikovsky .
  2. Fanny Dürbach. In: Tchaikovsky Research
  3. Alexander Poznansky: Tchaikovsky Through Others' Eyes. Indiana University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-253-33545-0 , p. 275. Limited preview in Google Book Search
  4. David Brown: Tchaikovsky: The Man and His Music Pegasus Books, ISBN 978-1-933648-30-9 , p. 6 limited preview in the Google book search
  5. ^ Jochen Haeusler: The Nuremberg court musicians of St. Petersburg. In: Messages from the Association for the History of the City of Nuremberg. Volume 94 (2007), pp. 131-159. In chapter 3.4.3: Rudolf Kündinger (1832–1913). Pp. 151-154.
  6. Tchaikovsky read critically. In: November 2, 2007, accessed December 31, 2014 .
  7. Jonathan Carr: The Wagner Clan. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-455-50079-0 , p. 56.
  8. Alexander Poznansky: Tchaikovsky's last days. A documentary study . Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 15 ( limited preview in Google Book search).
  9. ^ Oskar von Riesemann-Munich: A new contribution to PI Tchaikovsky's biography. In: The music. XVII / 1 (October 1924), pp. 26-42.
  10. Antonina Tchaikovskaya: "He called himself 'a mixture of child and old man'" (The memories of Tchaikovsky's widow from 1893). In: Communications from the Tchaikovsky Society. 1, 1994, pp. 17-27, accessed March 28, 2016.
  11. ^ A b Everett Helm: Peter I. Tchaikovsky. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek 1976, ISBN 3-499-50243-7 , p. 62.
  12. Everett Helm: Peter I. Tchaikovsky. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek 1976, ISBN 3-499-50243-7 , p. 63.
  13. Everett Helm: Peter I. Tchaikovsky. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek 1976, ISBN 3-499-50243-7 , pp. 63-64.
  14. Everett Helm: Peter I. Tchaikovsky. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek 1976, ISBN 3-499-50243-7 , p. 64.
  15. Everett Helm: Peter I. Tchaikovsky. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbek 1976, ISBN 3-499-50243-7 , pp. 62-64.
  16. a b Grönke, Kadja: Čajkovskijs Tod - a critical literature review. (PDF) p. 39 , accessed on October 27, 2016 .
  17. a b Grönke, Kadja: Čajkovskijs Tod - a critical literature review. (PDF) p. 41 , accessed on October 27, 2016 .
  18. Alexandra Orlova: Tchaikovsky: The Last Chapter. In: Music & Letters. 62, No. 2 1981, pp. 125-145.
  19. David Brown: Tchaikovsky. In: Stanley Sadie (Ed.): The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Volume 18, London 1980ff, Col. 626-627.
  20. Alexander Poznansky: Tchaikovsky's death. History and revision of a legend. Schott, Mainz 1998, ISBN 3-254-08373-3 .
  21. Thomas Kohlhase (Ed.): Axelxander Poznansky: Čajkovskijs Homosexualität und seine Tod. Legends and Reality. Schott, Mainz 1998, ISBN 3-7957-0341-7 .
  22. ^ Gerhard Böhme: Medical portraits of famous composers. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart 1981, chapter: Peter Iljitsch Tschaikowski 1840–1893.
  23. Andreas Otte, Konrad Wink: Kerner's diseases of great musicians. Schattauer, Stuttgart 2008, chapter: Peter Tschaikowsky
  24. Tim Neshitov: Homophobia and Culture in Russia - Artists are silent. In: . September 5, 2013, accessed December 31, 2014 .

Web links

Commons : Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Sheet music and audio samples

This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on August 20, 2005 .