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Composer Pyotr Tschaikovsky was born on this day 180 year ago

Composer Pyotr Tschaikovsky was born on this day 180 year ago

Saint-Petersburg TV Channel has gathered some little known facts of the famous composer’s biography.

Pyotr Tschaikovsky was born on May 7 180 year ago. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. Here are some interesting facts of his biography gathered by Saint-Petersburg TV Channel.

He served with the Ministry of Justice and worked as a journalist

Pyotr Tschaikovsky’s father wanted his son to pursue a career of a civil servant. After graduating from the Law School, the would-be composer started as a titular counsellor with the first department of the Ministry of Justice dealing mainly with peasants’ cases. Three years later, he was promoted to a collegiate assessor. 

Tschaikovsky remembered that his ‘escape’ from the Ministry disappointed his father who was upset seeing his son in poverty for the sake of a music career. To earn some money, Tschaikovsky had to work as a musical observer for newspapers. His articles were published under the alias of B.V.

He burnt his first two operas

Tschaikovsky destroyed his first opera “The Voyevoda” based on a play by Alexander Ostrovsky, only a small fragment of the composition survived.

His second opera was “Undina”. In 1873, Tschaikovsky said he had burnt it, too. Later, some fragments were discovered and restored. Specialists, however, believe that the composer did not destroy all of the opera, but used excerpts from it in his other works.

He inaugurated Carnegie Hall

Tschaikovsky conducted his “Marche Solennelle” with the local orchestra on the Opening Night of Carnegie Hall in 1891. 

He stole a book from a library

Experts believe that literature was the composer’s main passion after music. Tschaikovsky had books in six languages in his library, in French, German, Italian, English, Czech and Latin. His collection included books on history, religion, astronomy, and biology.

The Italian edition of Euripides has an inscription on it made by Tschaikovsky: ‘Stolen from the library of Doges’ Palace in Venice on December 3, 1877 by Pyotr Tsch., a court counsellor and a conservatory professor’.

He was killed by a glass of water

After a visit to the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg Tschaikovsky and his friends came to a restaurant where he asked for a glass of water. There was no boiled water in the restaurant, but Tschaikovsky told the waiter to bring ‘unboiled water, the colder the better’ and drank a full glass of it. At night, he developed an upset stomach. There was an epidemic of cholera in St. Petersburg at the time. Four days later, Tschaikovsky died. Emperor Alexander III undertook all the funeral expenses.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons