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How much do you know about Tchaikovsky, one of the romantic era's greatest composers? Our handy facts gallery will shed light on his life, loves and music.
Tchaikovsky was born in Kamsko-Votkinsk in Russia, in 1840. The town is now home to the Tchaikovsky museum and a statue of the composer.
Tchaikovsky had four brothers and one sister. Nikolai, Ippolit, twins Anatoly and Modest, and Alexandra were from his father's second marriage, and half-sister Zinaida was from his father's first marriage.
Tchaikovsky learnt languages from a young age. Thanks to his governess, he could speak German and French by the age of 6.
Ever the melancholy fellow, the young Tchaikovsky was reportedly so devastated when his mother dropped him off at boarding school that he clung to the carriage as it tried to pull away.
As a back-up plan, Tchaikovsky trained as a civil servant in case his musical career didn't take off. At the age of 19, he started in the civil service. He became a junior assistant within six months and a senior assistant two months after that, but luckily gave up his civil service career in order to compose!
Tchaikovsky's ballet Sleeping Beauty has unwittingly become the subject of a hotly-contested trademark issue. The Walt Disney Company is currently still awaiting the verdict on their patent application for the name 'Princess Aurora', which is also the name of the protagonist in Tchaikovsky's work (and from which Disney borrowed large amounts of music for their 1959 film of the same name).
Tchaikovsky was awarded an honorary degree from Cambridge University in 1893. He clearly enjoyed himself there, after having lunch with fellow honorary doctors Saint-Saëns and Bruch, he said: "Cambridge, with its colleges, similar to monasteries, is distinguished by its manners and customs, many of which have been preserved from medieval times. Its buildings, which are reminiscent of the far distant past, made a very favourable impression"
Tchaikovsky's exciting festive favourite, The Nutcracker, was first performed in 1892. Despite being hugely popular today, critics weren't exactly complimentary after the premiere, calling the Sugar Plum Fairy 'pudgy'! Luckily, Tchaikovsky's innovative score was viewed slightly more favourably. AFP PHOTO/JOHN D MCHUGH
Tchaikovsky was a notoriously difficult man when it came to matters of the heart. After marrying one of his students, Antonina Miliukova, he immediately realised that wedded life was not for him, commenting: "There's no doubt that for some months on end I was a bit insane and only now, when I'm completely recovered, have I learned to relate objectively to everything which I did during my brief insanity."
To support his early musical career, Tchaikovsky took work as a music critic. Among the targets of his critical ire were Schumann, who he thought was a poor orchestrator, and Brahms.
Tchaikovsky didn't have an easy time of it. He suffered from depression throughout his life, after his mother died in 1854 and his 13-year relationship with Nadezhda von Meck collapsed.
There is much speculation surrounding Tchaikovsky's death in 1893. It happened only nine days after he conducted the premiere of his Symphony No. 6 (one of his most impassioned works), but differing sources attribute it to cholera, his drinking and smoking, and there are some who suspect suicide.