This is the second page of this Tchaikovsky biography. For the first part, click here.
The Tsar eventually gave Tchaikovsky a life pension and the Order of St. Vladimir, and personally requested a performance of the composer's opera Eugene Onegin. At this point, Tchaikovsky became extremely popular with the public.
He now started to feel more comfortable in society. In 1885 he stopped traveling and went back to live in Russia, in a manor house between Moscow and St Petersburg.
He became a celebrity in Russia, and promoted Russian music. All his life he was enthusiastically proud of being Russian. He hated it when anyone suggested that he might have Polish ancestors.
Once, as a boy, he was looking at a map of Europe. Suddenly, he covered Russia with kisses, and then spat on all the other countries!
He also received some influential musical positions at this late stage of life, such as director of the Moscow branch of the Russian Musical Society.
Once, when he held this position, a percussionist wasn't playing very well during a rehearsal of Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol (conducted by the composer). So Tchaikovsky himself offered to play the castanets!
I would have liked to have seen that performance. It wasn't to be, however, as the orchestra was suddenly shocked into obedience by Tchaikovsky's suggestion.
In 1889, he toured around Germany and Switzerland as a conductor. On this trip he met the composers Johannes Brahms and Edvard Grieg. He didn't like Brahms's music, but thought that Grieg's was superb.
Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky died of cholera on November 6, 1893, a few days after drinking unboiled water. His powerful 6th Symphony had its premiere only 10 days earlier.
The Tsar paid for his funeral personally.
Why not explore Tchaikovsky's famous music now that you've read about the great composer's life?
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