Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Latest Release

Essential Albums

Artist Playlists

About Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky was a passionate poet of the heart, yet was also a master of his craft, creating masterpieces in the realms of symphony, concerto, opera, and ballet. Born in 1840 to a nonmusical family, he enrolled against their will at what is now the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, becoming one of its first composition graduates. Under the guidance of the leader of the nationalist Mighty Handful, Balakirev, Tchaikovsky wrote, then rewrote, his first great masterpiece, the tone poem Romeo and Juliet (first published 1870, completed to his satisfaction in 1880). His innovative Piano Concerto No. 1, though scorned by its intended dedicatee, helped establish Tchaikovsky’s international celebrity with its successful 1875 world premiere in Boston. Just as groundbreaking was his opera Eugene Onegin (1878, revised 1885) with its remarkable Letter Scene. In his ballets Swan Lake (1876), The Sleeping Beauty (1889), and The Nutcracker (1892), he raised what had been a frivolous and mediocre genre to rarely matched heights, each ballet a model of symphonic coherence with beguiling melodies and inventive orchestration. Tchaikovsky also composed such works as the Rococo Variations (1876) and the opera The Queen of Spades (1890), celebrating an idealized 18th century in homage to both his beloved Mozart and to Saint Petersburg’s stately architecture. In 1893, at the height of his fame, Tchaikovsky fell ill and died unexpectedly, only days after he had conducted the premiere of his tragic Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique.”

Votkinsk, Russia
May 7, 1840
Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada