"I grew up in a quiet spot and was saturated from earliest childhood with the wonderful beauty of Russian popular song. I am therefore passionately devoted to every expression of the Russian spirit. In short, I am a Russian through and through! "
When Tchaikovsky was born in 1840, Tsarist Russia was just beginning to make its mark on the world of the arts. Apart from Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857), who was the first Russian composer to be recognised outside his country, no Russian composer had achieved more than a local impact. But by the time Tchaikovsky died, he had succeeded in putting his country on the world's musical map.
Tchaikovsky was a musical patriot: He was fond of working traditional Russian songs and dances into his compositions. In this respect, he was close in styles to other Russian "nationalist" composers of the time, such as Mussorgsky, Borodin, and Rimsky-Korsakov. But since Tchaikovsky also possessed an academic training, he felt part of the wider Romantic movement. Above all, it was Tchaikovsky's ability to work his strong Russian spirit into a more cosmopolitan form and style that has given his music such a worldwide appeal.
From the cascading notes of his famous Piano Concerto No.1 to the captivating melodies of his ballet music, his work is infused with emotional power. At a time when nearly all composers wanted to write for the orchestra, Tchaikovsky's great strength as a composer was his ability to use the different instruments of the orchestra in much the same was as a painter uses colours - to build up a vivid, multi-layered effect. His rich, vibrant music creates a vivid canvas of sound.
contributed by Gifford, Katya