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Tchaikovsky (Chaykovsky), Pyotr (Ilyich)

Tchaikovsky [Chaykovsky], Pyotr (Ilyich) (b Votkinsk, 1840; d St Petersburg, 1893). Russ. composer and conductor. Studied law in St Petersburg. Worked as civil servant and studied 1863–5 at mus. coll. instituted by A. Rubinstein which became St Petersburg Cons. Went to Moscow 1866, becoming prof. of harmony at new Cons. under directorship of N. Rubinstein. During first 2 years there wrote 1st Sym. and opera Voyevoda. In 1868 met nationalist group of young Russ. composers headed by Rimsky-Korsakov and was stirred by their enthusiasm, as is shown by his 2nd Sym., but later came to be regarded by them as cosmopolitan rather than truly Russ. From 1869 to 1875 wrote 3 more operas and first pf. conc. and was mus. critic of Russkiye vedomosti 1872–6, going to first Bayreuth Fest. 1876. In 1877 married one of his pupils, separating from her 9 weeks later, attempting suicide, and coming near to mental collapse, psychological result of fatal step for a man of homosexual tendencies. At this time was taken under patronage of wealthy widow, Nadezhda von Meck, who out of admiration gave him yearly allowance which enabled him to abandon teaching and devote himself wholly to comp. She and Tchaikovsky never spoke to each other, though they corresponded voluminously. Fourth Sym. is ded. to her. Went to Switz. and It., composing opera Eugene Onegin, prod. by students of Moscow Cons. 1879, with moderate success. By 1880, his works were popular in Russia (thanks to advocacy of N. Rubinstein), and in Brit. and USA but still met with hostility in Paris and Vienna. In 1885 bought country house, first of several, at Klin, living in hermit-like isolation. There, wrote Manfred and in 1887 made début in Moscow as cond. of rev. version of opera Vakula the Smith under title Cherevichki (The Slippers). In 1888 toured Ger., Fr., and London as cond., returning to Ger. and Eng. in 1889. Ballet Sleeping Beauty prod. 1890, after which Tchaikovsky went to Florence to work on opera Queen of Spades, prod. St Petersburg 1890. Year ended with sudden rupture of relationship with Mme von Meck; illness (or the disapproval by her family of her patronage of Tchaikovsky) had dictated her decision, which wounded Tchaikovsky deeply. Visited USA with great success 1891, and in Jan. 1892 heard Mahler conduct Eugene Onegin at Hamburg. Ballet Nutcracker comp. 1891–2, as double bill with opera Yolanta, and work started on a 6th Sym. In that year, again visited Vienna and in 1893 went to Eng., where hon. doctorate of mus. was conferred on him by Cambridge Univ. During 1893 wrote 6th Sym., having abandoned sym. begun in 1891–2 and re-worked it as a 3rd pf. conc., eventually retaining only one movt. (2nd and 3rd orch. from the surviving sketches by Taneyev after Tchaikovsky's death). F.p. of the sym. was only moderately successful, though Tchaikovsky was convinced it was his best work. It is usually stated that 4 days later he felt ill and drank a large glassful of unboiled water (possibly with deliberate intent) and developed cholera, which led to his death. But in 1979 the Russian scholar Alexandra Orlova published a theory that the composer's death was suicide by poison, ordered by a private court of his former law-student colleagues to prevent revelation of a homosexual scandal involving the aristocracy. This theory is violently opposed by some scholars and the matter remains controversial and unresolved.

 Few composers are more popular with audiences than Tchaikovsky; the reasons are several and understandable. His music is extremely tuneful, luxuriously and colourfully scored, and filled with emotional fervour directed to the heart rather than to the head (though the notion that Tchaikovsky's syms. are lacking in symphonic thinking and structure does not bear serious consideration). Undoubtedly the emotional temperature of the mus. reflected the man's nature. He was doubly afflicted: by repressed homosexuality (hence his disastrous attempt at marriage) and by the tendency to extreme fluctuations between elation and depression, each success being followed by a period of introspective gloom and melancholy which stemmed from psychological defects rather than from ‘typical Russian melancholy’. This showed itself also in his attitude to his visits abroad. As soon as he left Russia he was ill with homesickness; once back, he was restlessly planning to be off again.

 In 19th-cent. Russ. mus., Tchaikovsky stands alone. His Romeo and Juliet was ded. to Balakirev, one of the ‘Five’, but he never identified himself with out-and-out nationalism. He succumbed to the influence of neither Brahms nor Wagner, but greatly admired the Fr. mus. of Bizet and Saint-Saëns. This can be linked with his lifelong passion for Mozart, and many passages in Tchaikovsky's mus. are as delicately detailed and coloured as works by Bizet and Mozart. The other element of his nature, the fate-laden, Byronic, emotional impact of the last 3 syms., is traceable in many episodes in the operas, notably Eugene Onegin. None of his operas was a success on its first appearance, but Onegin and Queen of Spades are now widely perf. and admired, and adventurous cos. have explored the others. The true theatrical Tchaikovsky is to be found in the ballets, a supreme combination of melodic inventiveness, grand sweep, and constant freshness. Nor should the superb songs be forgotten: in them, in miniature, the soul of Tchaikovsky is enshrined as surely as in the great syms., concs., and orch. masterpieces. Prin. works:OPERAS: Voyevoda, Op.3 (Dream on the Volga) (1867–8); Undine (destroyed) (1869); Oprichnik (The Life Guardsman) (1870–2); Vakula the Smith, Op.14 (Kuznets Vakula) (1874, rev. 1885 and 1886 as Cherevichki (The Slippers) or Oxana's Caprice); Eugene Onegin (Evgeny Onyegin), Op.24 (1877–8); The Maid of Orleans (Orleanskaya Deva) (1878–9, rev. 1882); Mazeppa (1881–3); The Sorceress (Charodeyka) (1885–7); Queen of Spades (Pikovaya Dama), Op.68 (1890); Yolanta, Op.69 (1891).BALLETS: Swan Lake (Lebedinoye ozero), Op.20 (1875–6); The Sleeping Beauty (Spyashchaya krasavitsa), Op.66 (1888–9); Nutcracker (Shchelkunchik), Op.71 (1891–2).ORCH.: syms.: No.1 in G minor, Op.13 (Winter Daydreams) (1866, rev. 1874), No.2 in C minor, Op.17 (Ukrainian or Little Russian) (1872, rev. 1879–80), No.3 in D, Op.29 (Polish) (1875), No.4 in F minor, Op.36 (1877–8), No.5 in E minor, Op.64 (1888), No.6 in B minor, Op.74 (Pathetic) (1893); concertos, etc.: pf.: No.1 in B♭ minor, Op.23 (1874–5), No.2 in G, Op.44 (1879–80, rev. 1893 Ziloti), Concert Fantasy, Op.56 (1884); vn. conc. in D, Op.35 (1878), Sérénade mélancolique, vn., Op.26 (1875), Valse-Scherzo, vn., Op.34 (1877); Variations on a Rococo Theme, vc., Op.33 (1876), Pezzo capriccioso, vc., Op.62 (1887); symphonic fantasies: The Tempest, Op.18 (1873), Francesca da Rimini, Op.32 (1876); Slavonic March, Op.31 (1876); Serenade, str., Op.48 (1880); 1812, Ceremonial Overture, Op.49 (1880); Manfred Symphony, Op.58 (1885); ov., The Storm, Op.76 (1864); sym.-poem Fate, Op.77 (1868); fantasy ovs.: Hamlet, Op.67a (1888), Romeo and Juliet (1869, rev. 1870 and 1880); Italian Caprice, Op.45 (1880); symphonic ballad, Voyevoda, Op.78 (1891); Suites: No.1 in D, Op.43 (1878–9), No.2 in C, Op.53 (1883), No.3 in G, Op.55 (1884, Theme and Variations movt. often perf. separately), No.4 Mozartiana, Op.61 (1887), Nutcracker, Op.71a (1892). (N.B. The ‘Sym. No.7 in E♭’ and the ‘Pf. Conc. No.3 in E♭’ are compilations by other hands. The sym. was begun by Tchaikovsky in 1891–2, but abandoned. He scored 1st movt. as pf. conc., Taneyev later adding andante and finale from sketches of the sym. S. Bogatyryov (1890–1960) prod. perf. version of orig. sym. from same sketches. Taneyev also completed vocal duet version (1893) of part of Romeo and Juliet ov. for sop., ten., and orch.)CHAMBER MUSIC: str. qts.: No.1 in D, Op.11 (contains Andante cantabile often played separately) (1871), No.2 in F, Op.22 (1874), No.3 in E♭ minor, Op.30 (1876); pf. trio in A minor (in memory of a great artist), Op.50 (1881–2); Souvenir de Florence, str. sextet, Op.70 (1887–90, rev. 1891–2).PIANO: Valse Caprice, Op.4 (1868); Capriccio, Op.8 (1870); 3 Pieces, Op.9 (1870); Nocturne and Humoreske, Op.10 (1871); 6 Pieces, Op.19 (1873); 6 Pieces on One Theme, Op.21 (1873); sonata in G, Op.37 (1878); The Seasons, 12 characteristic pieces (1875–6); Children's Album: 24 Pieces, Op.39 (1878); 12 Pieces, Op.40 (1878); 6 Pieces, Op.51 (1882); Dumka, Op.59 (1886); 18 Pieces, Op.72 (1893; the 10th of these, Scherzo-Fantaisie in E♭ minor, exists in orch. sketch of 1891–2 and is presumed to have been intended as scherzo of projected sym. Incorporated by Bogatyryov in ‘7th Sym.’, see above); Sonata in C♯ minor (posth.).CHORAL: Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, Op.41 (1878); Russian Vesper Service, unacc., Op.52 (1881–2).SONGS: Tchaikovsky's songs were pubd. in the following groups (no. of songs, Op.no. and date): 6, Op.6, 1869; 6, Op.16, 1872; 6, Op.25, 1874; 6, Op.27, 1874; 6, Op.28, 1874; 6, Op.38, 1877; 7, Op.47, 1879; 16 for children, Op.54, 1883; 6, Op.57, 1883; 12, Op.60, 1886; 6, Op.63, 1888; 6, Op.65, 1888; 6, Op.73, 1893. Among the best-known are: Again as before; As they kept on saying; At the ball; Behind the window; Cradle Song; Deception; Don Juan's Serenade; Evening; Exploit; In the early Spring; My spoiled darling; Night; No, only he who has known (None but the lonely heart) (Op.6 No.6); Not a word, my friend; Over the golden cornfields; Reconciliation; To forget so soon; Wait; Why did I dream of you?

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"Tchaikovsky (Chaykovsky), Pyotr (Ilyich)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) is one of the most loved of Russian composers. He epitomized the ingenuous opening to the emotions of the romantic era in music, but his product was made durable through sound craftsmanship and rigorous work habits.

Eschewing the intellectual, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was in no sense a technical innovator; moreover, he attracted, and still attracts, the barbed clevernesses of those less trustful of emotional statement. But his work is always hotly defended as each generation discovers him afresh—a process considerably quickened by a massive and ever-growing body of literature about his music and his interesting, often tragic life.

Born on May 7, 1840, in Votkinsk in the Vyatka district, Tchaikovsky was the son of a well-to-do engineer. Peter and his brothers and sister received a sound education from their French governesses. He apparently showed no early signs of unusual musical talent but was duly exposed to the music lessons suffered by all young gentlemen. He later recalled growing up in a place "saturated with the miraculous beauty of Russian folk song" and the effect some music had on him as a child—that of exquisite torture so beautiful that he begged the music be stopped. He often referred to this in his letters as a mature artist.

Tchaikovsky attended a school of jurisprudence in St. Petersburg, and, while studying law and government, he also took music lessons, including some composing, from Gabriel Lomakin. Tchaikovsky graduated at the age of 19 and took a job as a bureau clerk. This was to be the first step of an official career, but he was already hopelessly enamored of music. He soon met the Rubinstein brothers, Anton and Nikolai; both were composers, and Anton was a pianist second only to Franz Liszt in technical brilliance and fame. In 1862 Anton opened Russia's first conservatory, under the sponsorship of the Imperial Russian Music Society (IRMS), in St. Petersburg, and Tchaikovsky was its first composition student.

Early Works

Tchaikovsky's early works were technically sound but not memorable. Anton Rubinstein was demanding and critical, often unjustly so, and when Tchaikovsky graduated 2 years later he was still somewhat cowed by Anton's harshness. In 1866 Nikolai Rubinstein invited Tchaikovsky to Moscow to live with him and serve as professor of composition at the Moscow Conservatory, which he had just established. Tchaikovsky's father was now in financial trouble, and the composer had to support himself on the meager earnings from the conservatory. The symphonic poems Fatum and Romeo and Juliet that he wrote in 1869 were the first works to show the style he was thereafter to cultivate. Romeo and Juliet was redone with Mily Balakirev's help in 1870 and again in 1879.

During the seventies and later, there was considerable communication between Tchaikovsky and the Rubinsteins on the one hand and the members of the Mighty Five, Balakirev, Aleksandr Borodin, Modest Mussorgsky, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and César Cui, on the other. The traditional "enmity" between the two groups seems a concoction of romantic biographers. Tchaikovsky functioned as an all-around musician in the early seventies, and, as expected of an IRMS licentiate, he taught, composed, wrote critical essays, and conducted, the last not very well. In 1875 he composed what is perhaps his most universally known and loved work, the Piano Concerto No. 1. Anton Rubinstein was sarcastic in his dislike, although it became one of the most popular items in his own repertoire as a concert pianist. Vying in popularity with the concerto is Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake (1876). It is the most successful ballet ever written if measured in terms of broad audience appeal.

A Disastrous Marriage

In 1877 Tchaikovsky married the 28-year-old Antonina Miliukova, his student at the conservatory; it has been suggested that she remained him of Tatiana, his heroine in his opera-in-process, Eugene Onegin. His unfortunate wife, who died insane in 1917, not only suffered violent rejection by her husband but also the vicious libel of Modeste Tchaikovsky, his brother's biographer. Modeste, like Peter a misogynist, vilified her in the biography in an attempt to shield Peter and mask his weaknesses. Subsequent biographers, uncritically and perhaps with relish, repeated and embroidered upon Modeste's assertion that Antonina was cheap, high-strung, and neurotic.

Tchaikovsky was scarcely to find out her character: within a few weeks he had fled Moscow alone for an extended stay abroad. He made arrangements through relatives never to see his wife again. In his correspondence of this period—indeed through a large part of his career—he was periodically morbid about all aspects of his life: about his wife, money, his friends, even his music and himself. He often spoke of suicide. This, too, is a favorite theme of his many biographers. Even during his life he was treated unkindly by critics who sharpened their sarcastic vocabularies on his open, vulnerable, emotionally based music. But he never sought to change his style, though he was dissatisfied, at one time or another, with most of his works; and he never stopped composing.

Arrangement with Madame von Meck

At about the same time as his abortive marriage, Tchaikovsky entered into a liaison of quite another kind. Through third parties an unusual but fruitful arrangement with the immensely wealthy Nadezhda von Meck was made: she was attracted by his music and the possibility of patronizing him, and he was frank in his interest in her money and what it could provide him. For 13 years she supported him at a base rate of 6, 000 rubles a year, with whatever "bonuses" he could manage to extract. He was free to quit the conservatory, and he began a series of travels and stays abroad.

Von Meck and Tchaikovsky purposely never met, save for one or two accidental encounters. In their voluminous correspondence the composer discusses his music thoughtfully; it is disenchanting to note that in letters to his family he complains cavalierly of her parsimony. He dedicated his Fourth Symphony (1877) to her. Tchaikovsky finished Eugene Onegin in 1879; it is his only opera generally performed outside the Soviet Union. Other works of this period are the Violin Concerto (1881), the Fifth Symphony (1888), and the ballet Sleeping Beauty (1889).

Tchaikovsky's fame and his activity now extended to all of Europe and America. To rest from his public appearances he chose a country retreat in Klin near Moscow. From this was derived the "Hermit of Klin" nickname, though hermit he never was. In 1890 he finished the opera Queen of Spades, based on Aleksandr Pushkin's story. As with many of his other works, Tchaikovsky was highly involved emotionally, and he was gratified when, despite the grousing "experts, " the opera was enthusiastically received. In late 1890 Von Meck cut him off. He was self-sustaining by then, but the rebuff rankled. Even Modeste expressed surprise at his irritation. Tchaikovsky had an immensely successful tour in the United States in 1891.

The Sixth Symphony was first heard in October 1893, with the composer conducting. This work, named at Modeste's suggestion Pathétique, was poorly received, very likely because of the inadequate conducting. Tchaikovsky never knew of its eventual astonishing success, for he contracted cholera and died, muttering abuse of Von Meck, on November 6.

Tchaikovsky's gift was melody—sobbing, singing, exalting melody. Yet, one of his favorite and recurring melodic patterns was a simple five-or six-note minor scale, usually descending, which he enveloped in orchestral color or lush harmonies often electrifying in their piquancy and effectiveness.

Further Reading

Tchaikovsky's story is obscured, first, by the work by his brother Modeste, Life of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (3 vols., 1900-1902; English abridgment by Rosa Newmarch, 1906), which, while otherwise authoritative, cloaks vital segments of the composer's life; second, by puritanical attitudes which keep archives in Klin tightly closed; and third, by the opportunistic sensationalism of many writers who perform Freudian acrobatics with the few facts they possess of the composer's life. M. D. Calvocoressi and Gerald Abraham, Masters of Russian Music (1936), is sound, as is Abraham's Tchaikovsky: A Short Biography (1944), derived from the former work. David Brook, Six Great Russian Composers (1946), includes a chapter on Tchaikovsky. John Gee and Elliot Selby, The Triumph of Tchaikovsky (1960), and Lawrence and Elizabeth Hanson, Tchaikovsky: The Man behind the Music (1966), are undistinguished biographies. The Tchaikovsky-Von Meck correspondence was published in Russian (3 vols., 1933-1936), and a one-volume English abridgment is available. Beloved Friend (1937), by Catherine Drinker Bowen and Barbara von Meck, is a fictionalized but not inaccurate account based on the aforementioned letters. □

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Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Ĭlyēch´ chīkôf´skē), 1840–93, Russian composer, b. Kamsko-Votkinsk. Variant transliterations of his name include Tschaikovsky and Chaikovsky. He is a towering figure in Russian music and one of the most popular composers in history.

The son of a mining inspector, Tchaikovsky studied music as a child. At 19 he became a government clerk and at 21 entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he studied composition with Anton Rubinstein. He graduated in 1865 and taught theory and composition at Nicholas Rubinstein's Moscow Conservatory from 1865 to 1878. An annuity from his wealthy patroness, Mme von Meck (whom he never met though he corresponded with her for 14 years and dedicated his Fourth Symphony to her in 1878), made it possible for him to devote himself entirely to composition. Tchaikovsky wrote 11 operas, four concertos, six symphonies, a great number of songs and short piano pieces, three ballets, three string quartets, suites and symphonic poems, and numerous other works.

His compositions sustained him throughout his continuous battle with his own nature. In 1877 Tchaikovsky made a disastrous marriage in order to defeat the torment of his homosexuality and to deny the spreading rumors of it. His work was again his consolation when Mme van Meck terminated her friendship and support without apparent reason. Tchaikovsky was opposed to the aims of the Russian nationalist composers and used Western European forms and idioms, although his work instinctively reflects the Russian temperament. His orchestration is rich, and his music is melodious, intensely emotional, and often melancholy.

The most successful of his compositions are his orchestral works, notably his last three symphonies; the fantasies Romeo and Juliet (1869, rev. 1870 and 1879) and Francesca da Rimini (1876); Marche slave (1876); the Manfred Symphony (1886); the ballets Swan Lake (1877), The Sleeping Beauty (1890), and The Nutcracker (1892; also arranged as a suite for orchestra); and the Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor (1875) and the Violin Concerto in D (1881). Of his operas, notable are Vakula, the Smith (1876); Eugene Onegin (1879) and The Queen of Spades (1890), both from stories by Pushkin; and The Maid of Orleans (1881). None of the operas, however, achieved the popularity of his symphonies, ballets, and concertos.

Tchaikovsky toured Europe as a conductor, performing his Marche solennelle at the opening concert in Carnegie Hall, New York City, in 1891. A few days after he conducted the première of his Sixth Symphony, or Symphonie pathétique, he died, reportedly of cholera. Some experts believe that the cause was really suicide, possibly precipitated by the threatened revelation of a homosexual relationship. Tchaikovsky's most gifted followers in Russia were Rachmaninoff and Arenski; his influence was great, particularly in England and the United States.

Bibliography

See his life and letters by his brother Modeste, ed. by R. Newmarch (2 vol., 1905, repr. 1970); diaries, ed. by W. Lakond (tr. 1945); biographies by H. Weinstock (1943), L. and E. Hanson (1966), A. Holden (1996), and R. J. Wiley (2009); studies by G. E. H. Abraham, ed. (1946, repr. 1969), J. H. Warrack (1969), E. Garden (1973), and D. Brown (1978).

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Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich

TCHAIKOVSKY, PETER ILYICH

(18401893), Russian composer.

Arguably the most famous Russian composer, Tchaikovsky was the first to achieve renown beyond Russia's borders and establish a place for Russian music in the repertories of Western concert halls and musical theaters. The first professional Russian composer to receive a thorough musical education, the import of Tchaikovsky's achievement owes much to his mastery of the dominant nineteenth-century musical genre: the symphony. Yet Tchaikovsky's enormous range, versatility, and outputhe composed in all the major genres, including symphonies, operas, ballets, chamber works, songs, as well as compositions for solo instrumentsassure the composer's place among the most popular and prolific European composers of his day.

Tchaikovsky's virtual dominance of the Russian musical scene by the end of his life aroused the envy of the nationalist composers known as the Mighty Handful, yet Tchaikovsky's ability to adapt native folk material to established Western compositional structures proved more successful than their more earnest attempts to craft from those materials a unique native musical language. Four Tchaikovsky masterworks, representing three genres in which Tchaikovsky particularly excelled, were the fruits of an unprecedented final creative flourish: the opera Queen of Spades (1891), the ballets Sleeping Beauty (1889), The Nutcracker (1892), and the Sixth Symphony (1893).

Although Tchaikovsky's music was deemed bourgeois in the relatively radical period following the 1917 Revolution, these criticisms faded in the Josef Stalin era, when the monumental art of the previous century once again found favor, and Tchaikovsky was hailed as a symphonist par excellencethe composer's homosexuality, the perceived melancholy of his music, and his conservative politics notwithstanding. Tchaikovsky died of cholera in St. Petersburg in 1893, though a very active party of mostly Russian researchers allege the composer's death was the result of a suicide brought about by a crisis over his homosexuality.

See also: music

bibliography

Brown, David. (19781992). Tchaikovsky: A Biographical and Critical Study. London: Gollancz.

Orlova, A., ed. (1990). Tchaikovsky: A Self-Portrait. New York: Oxford University Press.

Poznansky, Alexander. (1991). Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man. New York: Simon and Schuster Macmillan.

Poznansky, Alexander, and Brett Langston. (2002). The Tchaikovsky Handbook: A Guide to the Man and His Music, comp. Alexander Poznansky and Brett Langston. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Taruskin, Richard. (1997). Defining Russia Musically: Historical and Hermeneutical Essays. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Tim Scholl

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Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich

Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyich (1840–93) Russian composer. His gift for melody and expressiveness is apparent in all his works, which include nine operas, four concertos, six symphonies, three ballets, and overtures. Tchaikovsky's popular ballets include Swan Lake (1876), The Sleeping Beauty (1889), and The Nutcracker (1892). His operas include Eugene Onegin (1879) and The Queen of Spades (1890). Other famous works include the First Piano Concerto (1875), the 1812 overture (1880), and the sixth (Pathétique) symphony (1893).

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