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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky often anglicised as Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was a Russian composer of the late-Romantic period, some of whose works are among the most popular music in the classical repertoire. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. Tchaikovsky was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III, and awarded a lifetime pension.
On 10 June 1859, the 19-year-old Tchaikovsky graduated as a titular counselor, a low rung on the civil service ladder. Appointed to the Ministry of Justice, he became a junior assistant within six months and a senior assistant two months after that. He remained a senior assistant for the rest of his three-year civil service career.
Meanwhile, the Russian Musical Society (RMS) was founded in 1859 by the Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna (a German-born aunt of Tsar Alexander II) and her protégé, pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein. Previous tsars and the aristocracy had focused almost exclusively on importing European talent. The aim of the RMS was to fulfill Alexander II's wish to foster native talent. It hosted a regular season of public concerts (previously held only during the six weeks of Lent when the Imperial Theaters were closed) and provided basic professional training in music. In 1861, Tchaikovsky attended RMS classes in music theory taught by Nikolai Zaremba at the Mikhailovsky Palace (now the Russian Museum). These classes were organized by were a precursor to the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, which opened in 1862. Tchaikovsky enrolled at the Conservatory as part of its premiere class. He studied harmonyand counterpoint with Zaremba and instrumentation and composition with Rubinstein.
The Conservatory benefitted Tchaikovsky in two ways. It transformed him into a musical professional, with tools to help him thrive as a composer, and an in-depth exposure to European principles and musical forms gave him a sense that his art was not exclusively Russian or Western. This mindset became important in Tchaikovsky's reconciliation of Russian and European influences in his compositional style. He believed and attempted to show that both these aspects were "intertwined and mutually dependent". His efforts became both an inspiration and a starting point for other Russian composers to build their own individual styles.
On 28 October/9 November 1893 Tchaikovsky conducted the premiere of his Sixth Symphony, the Pathétique in Saint Petersburg. Nine days later, Tchaikovsky died there, aged 53. He was interred in Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, near the graves of fellow-composers Alexander Borodin, Mikhail Glinka, and Modest Mussorgsky; later, Rimsky-Korsakov and Balakirev were also buried nearby. While Tchaikovsky's death has traditionally been attributed to cholera, most probably contracted through drinking contaminated water several days earlier from the local river, some have theorized that his death was a suicide. Opinion has been summarized as follows: "The polemics over [Tchaikovsky's] death have reached an impasse ... Rumor attached to the famous die hard ... As for illness, problems of evidence offer little hope of satisfactory resolution: the state of diagnosis; the confusion of witnesses; disregard of long-term effects of smoking and alcohol. We do not know how Tchaikovsky died. We may never find out ....."