Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer born in Votkinski, Russia on May 7, 1840. He is the most important Russian composer of all time having written successfully in every musical genre. Many of his works have very appealing melodies. He excelled in the composition of symphonies, such as Symphony No.6 in B minor, also known as The Pathetique. Other important works include the overture for Romeo and Juliet, as well as the scores for ballets such as Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.
Tchaikovsky studied at the School of Jurisprudence in St. Petersburg and became a clerk in the Ministry of Justice in 1859. In 1862, he entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory and resigned from his job to devote himself to music. Here he studied with the Russian composer and pianist Aaron Rubinstein. He became a professor of harmony at the Moscow Conservatory in 1869, where he spent the next 11 years. It was here that he composed many of his important works, such as Francesca da Rimini and his first three symphonies.
With the financial support of a benefactor that he never met, Nadezhda von Meck, he was able to continue in his music. From 1870 to 1890 he wrote such works as Trio in A minor, the Violin Concerto in D major and the Capriccio Italien. He visited the United States in 1891 to conduct his Marche solennelle at Carnegie Hall. He conducted the premiere of his Symphony Pathetique in St. Petersburg in 1893 after which he was stricken with cholera and died on November 6 of that year.
Tchaikovsky was one of the first Russian composers to gain international recognition. Although some have criticized his music as being too sentimental, his finest works portray genuine compassion and emotion.