Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, born on this day 178 years ago, was the first Russian composer whose music became popular around the world. His three ballets – The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and The Sleeping Beauty – are all classics, still performed today.
Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality is still denied by the government of his famously homophobic homeland. At the age of 53 he died in Saint Petersburg nine days after conducting the premiere of his Sixth Symphony. Although the cause of his death is traditionally listed as cholera, from drinking unboiled water in a local restaurant, there are some who believe he committed suicide.
Here is one of his most beautiful melodies, The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker, danced by Lauren Cuthbertson of the Royal Ballet in London: