Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

On this date in 1840, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Russia. Although he studied law and was appointed to the Ministry of Justice in 1859, Tchaikovsky jettisoned that career, studying music for three years at the Conservatory. He followed that by lessons from Rubenstein. This prolific and most lyrical of the classical composers wrote "Romeo and Juliet" (1869), "Swan Lake" (1876), "The Sleeping Beauty" (1890), "The Nutcracker" (1892), "Piano Concerto in B Flat Minor" (1875) and "Pathetique Symphony." His letters show an interest in religious questions, which, according to freethought encyclopedist Joseph McCabe, gravitated toward agnosticism by the end of his life. Tchaikovsky's homosexuality, which made him a "transgressor" in the 19th century, may have played a role in his religious migration. D. 1893.

"I have found some astonishing answers to my questioning as to God and religion in his book."

—Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, letter to Modeste about reading freethinker Flaubert's letters (Life and Letters of P.I. Tchaikovsky, 1906)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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