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Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-93)

Composer

Having studied law, he started out as a civil servant and worked his way through the St Petersburg conservatory studying under Anton Rubinstein and, later, at the Moscow conservatoire under Nicolai Rubinstein.

Although he is perhaps the most famous of all Russian composers, his music is not especially nationalistic but, rather, intensely emotional, drawing on his own sensitivities. Against his nature, he entered into a doomed marriage. He was sustained both financially and emotionally by a curious relationship with his patroness Madame von Meck - whom he never met.

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The circumstances of his death from cholera, after drinking a glass of foul water, have never satisfactorily been explained. He left a large repertoire in many forms but is perhaps best known for his symphonies, including Pathetique, his Violin Concerto, the Piano Concerto in Bb and other orchestral music, such as the overture Romeo and Juliet.

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