Tchaikovsky’s house destroyed by Russian army in north-east Ukraine

6 April 2022, 15:02 | Updated: 8 April 2022, 15:16

Tchaikovsky stayed in Trostyanets in his 20s; the city is now destroyed
Tchaikovsky stayed in Trostyanets in his 20s; the city is now destroyed. Picture: Getty

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

One of Russia’s most famous composers once called Trostyanets home. Now the city lies in ruin.

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Trostyanets is a city in the north-east of Ukraine, which once played host to Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Aged 24, the famed 19th-century Romantic composer stayed in a villa in the city of Trostyanets, then a part of the Russian Empire. It was here he composed his first symphonic work - the overture ‘The Storm’ (1864).

The villa, like the rest of Trostyanets, now lies in ruin following the capture of the city on 1 March 2022 during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

After a month of occupation, where civilians were reportedly killed by Russian hand grenades, Ukrainian forces used heavy shelling to gain back control of Trostyanets.

Though the Russian army have now left after a brutal month, reminders of their occupation can be seen everywhere; buildings – including the villa – have been destroyed, and the letter ‘Z’ has been graffitied on ruins and cars across the city.

Read more: Russian music students bravely condemn conductor’s pro-Putin ‘Z’ stunt

Listen to a rare recording of Tchaikovsky's voice

Since the invasion began in February, food and water have become dangerously scarce in Trostyanets, which has a population of 25,000.

Residents now have to line up in front of the Tchaikovsky Music School for Children, next to the museum of the same name, in order to collect food.

During the first days of the Russian invasion, the concert hall at the Tchaikovsky Music School for Children was used to register Ukrainian volunteers for the Territorial Defense Forces.

While waiting in line to collect food, citizens spotted reporters from international outlets in their city and ran to them. A cacophony of testimonies were given all at once to the reporters.

“They smashed my place up.” “They stole everything, even my underwear.” “They killed a guy on my street.” “The f*****s stole my laptop and my aftershave.”

Read more: Kharkiv residents soothed by classical music in underground festival as war continues in Ukraine

Tchaikovsky - The Storm, Op. 76 (Overture in E minor)

The mayor of Trostyanets has said it is too early to give an estimate as to how many of his city’s citizens were killed.

Civilians in Trostyanets were reportedly targeted by hand grenades when they protested Russian occupation, which killed two.

Due to the harrowing testimonies from the city’s residents, and other parts of Ukraine, on Monday the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, backed an investigation into reported Russian war crimes in the country.

After a call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, von der Leyen said that EU investigators will help Kyiv to probe reports from Ukrainian officials and NGOs that Russian forces massacred and sexually assaulted civilians in towns near the Ukrainian capital.

Statue of Tchaikovsky in Trostyanets central park
Statue of Tchaikovsky in Trostyanets central park. Picture: Wikimedia Commons