Tchaikovsky, Peter

Image - Kamianka (Cherkasy oblast): Peter Tchaikovsky's monument. Image - Mykola Kuznetsov: Portrait of Peter Tchaikovsky (1893).

Tchaikovsky, Peter [Чайковский, Петр; Čajkovskij, Petr], b 7 May 1840 in Votkinsk, Viatka gubernia, Russia, d 6 November 1893 in Saint Petersburg. Composer and conductor. A descendant (on his father's side) of an old Cossack family (Chaika), Tchaikovsky first visited Ukraine in 1864 and thereafter often spent his summers there in Kamianka near Chyhyryn [see Kamianka (Cherkasy oblast)] at the home of his sister and in Nyzy (Sumy county), where he lived during 1876–9. Today memorial museums dedicated to him are located in both of these places. He is commonly regarded as one of the greatest 19th-century Russian composers, but at least 30 of his works have Ukrainian subjects or incorporate Ukrainian folk songs or melodies. Among these are the operas Mazepa (based on Aleksandr Pushkin's poem), Little Shoes, and Night before Christmas (or Vakula the Smith, based on Nikolai Gogol's story); symphonies no. 2 (Little Russian), no. 4, and no. 7 (finished and edited by S. Bogatyrev); the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra no. 1 in B-flat Minor; the 1812 Overture, the opening of which is based on the first mode of the Kyivan chant; the transcription for piano solo of A. Dargomyzhsky's orchestral fantasy Kozachok; and songs to Russian translations of Taras Shevchenko, such as ‘Sadok vyshnevyi’ (Cherry Orchard). Tchaikovsky also edited 10 volumes of Dmytro Bortniansky's sacred choral works, which were published in Moscow in 1882. Studies of Tchaikovsky's Ukrainian connections have been published in Kyiv, edited by Andrii Olkhovsky (1940), Halyna Tiumenieva (1955), and N. Semenenko (1989).

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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