The Tchaikovsky House-Museum in Klin, Russia - A Visit January 18 2022
Front view of Tchaikovsky's House-Museum in Klin (Russia)
THE TCHAIKOVSKY HOUSE
Nearly everyone on the planet has heard of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty, but not many can name the composer responsible for these brilliant works. Russian Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conceived these ballets and many of his other most famous works in the final years of his life when many believe he was at the height of his genius.
External Lateral View of the House-Museum
The Wooden Barn whose construction took place in the 1870s
During this time, he lived in Klin, Russia, due to its location on the train line between St. Petersburg and Moscow, plus its calming, natural landscapes. Tchaikovsky put Klin on the map as a historical town with cultural importance. Today, you can go to the city just 80 kilometers (50 miles) outside of Moscow and visit his old home that has been converted into a museum.
A statue of the star Russian composer P.I. Tchaikovsky in the exterior gardens of his House-Museum in Klin (Russia)
View of one of the main exhibition rooms of the House-Museum
PYOTR ILYCH TCHAIKOVSKY'S EARLY LIFE
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Vyatka, Russia on May 7, 1840. His passion for music started at the ripe age of five when he began taking piano lessons. His desire to be a musician got more robust with age, and when he was 21, he traveled abroad for the first time.
[Image] Tchaikovsky in his maturity -cabinet photograph signed in 1887
He joined the St. Petersburg Conservatory when he returned home as one of its first composition students. Later, he would go on to teach at the Moscow Conservatory.
TCHAIKOVSKY - RUSSIA'S FAVORITE COMPOSER
While teaching at the Moscow Conservatory, Tchaikovsky began to produce his first works - Symphony No. 1 in 1866 and The Voyevoda, his first opera, in 1868. Critics across Russia applauded his first pieces, and from there, he began producing more. According to Britannica, throughout his career, he composed seven symphonies, 11 operas, three ballets, five suites, three piano concertos, a violin concerto, 11 overtures, four cantatas, 20 choral works, three string quartets, a string sextet, and more than 100 songs and piano pieces. As a result, he became one of Russia’s most famous composers of all time.
As he became more famous in Russia and beyond, he was able to retire from teaching in 1878, in part thanks to an arrangement he had with a wealthy railroad tycoon widower. She would give him a monthly allowance so he could devote his time and energy to writing music.
At the beginning of his career, Tchaikovsky would spend his time split between Europe and Russia. His travels and exposure to other cultures helped his creativity when composing. Eventually, he wanted to settle down and create a routine.
[Image] Stunning portrait of the star composer exhibited at his House-Museum
In his final years, he lived in two country houses near Klin, the first one in Maidanovo. Then he moved to the Sakharov’s house, which he first rented and then purchased, living there for the last year of this life. He loved being in nature and the massive garden that the house had.
TCHAIKOVSKY STATE MEMORIAL MUSICAL MUSEUM-RESERVE
After Tchaikovsky died in 1893, his little brother turned his house into Russia’s first musical and memorial museum. Modest Tchaikovsky, his brother, and Vladimir Davydov, his nephew, worked together to preserve the house as it was and archive all of Tchaikovsky’s works.
When visiting, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time to the 19th century. You’ll be able to view his personal effects, gifts he was given throughout his career, library of literature, and collection of musical pieces, all while his music plays in the background. His original Becker piano is also still intact. It is played only twice a year, on the day Tchaikovsky died and his birthday, by musicians who win the annual International Tchaikovsky Competition.
View of one of the rooms of Tchaikovsky's House-Museum where his piano is exhibited
The original Becker Piano that belonged to Tchaikovsky's exhibited at his House-Museum -played only twice a year
Today the museum attracts music and history buffs from around the world. You’ll find a museum dedicated to the composer on the ground floor. The second floor is preserved to look exactly as it did when he lived there.
The largest room is the reception room, where he would play the piano or read from his library for his guests. He had photos of his family displayed throughout the room and those of his inspirations like Beethoven and Anton Rubinstein, one of his first teachers. Next is his bedroom, where he did the majority of his composing at a desk that overlooked his beloved garden.
View of the living room of the House-Museum with photographs of different composers on the wall
Another view of the living room with photographs of family members on the wall
Some of Tchaikovsky's personal correspondence and cabinet photographs
Some drafts, correspondance and photograph of the Composer.
Tchaikovsky’s garden became one of his favorite places towards the end of his life. He would walk through the countryside every morning and evening regardless of the weather. He had a winding path in his garden that led through the forested area to a gazebo. The grounds are still filled with some of his favorite flowers, including hundreds of lilies planted by his brother after his death. Now, the musicians who play his piano plant oak trees in the garden.
View of the Dining Room
View of one of the Internal Rooms
View of one of the Internal Rooms
THE EFFECTS OF WORLD WAR II
Despite the fact that attempts have been made to preserve the house since Tchaikovsky’s death, there have been a few moments in history where the efforts were almost stifled.
[Image] View of the gardens and forests
When Tchaikovsky’s brother died, the house was donated to the Russian Musical Society. Not long after, an anarchist named Doroshenko settled into the home with his family.
He reportedly fired shots into a photo of Pope Innocent while residing there. He was eventually arrested, and the house became the property of the state.
Even worse, after the Nazi invasion of Russia during World War II, German soldiers damaged the home by occupying it from 1941 to 1942. The soldiers used the upper floors as barracks and stored their motorcycles on the first floor. Luckily, before the soldiers seized the home, all of the artifacts and memorabilia had been transferred to Tchaikovsky’s birth town.
Eventually, control over the house was returned to the state, and in the 1940s, it was repaired back to its former glory. At that time, a concert hall was also constructed near the house.
[Image] Tchaikovsky's death mask
Finally, all of the museum’s artifacts were returned in 1944. The museum reopened on the eve of his birthday in 1945 and has remained open since.
TCHAIKOVSKY AND SERGEI TANEYEV
Also on the grounds stands a cottage dedicated to the Demyanovo Estate Museum. The estate no longer stands but was once owned by the Taneyev family. Composer Sergey Taneyev was a student of Tchaikovsky. Their relationship turned into a friendship that some believe blossomed into a relationship.
Homosexuality was illegal in Russia, and at first, Tchaikovsky tried to hide his sexual orientation. He even married a woman at one point. The marriage failed, and after several weeks, he never saw his wife again. From there, he vowed to be true to himself.
It’s difficult to pin down specific relationships as Russia has long censored same-sex attraction in their history books. Although most biographers believe Tchaikovsky was homosexual, the extent of the relationship between him and Taneyev is unclear.
Tchaikovsky's Private Bedroom
View of one of the rooms of Tchaikovsky's House-Museum
Some of Tchaikovsky's Personal Effects Exhibited
Some other personal effects of Tchaikovsky exhibited, including pictures
Whether romantic or not, the two had a close bond and worked together often. Taneyev became one of Tchaikovsky’s most trusted critics. He was known for being straightforward and blunt with his opinions on Tchaikovsky’s work. Taneyev’s opinions and comments were highly appreciated by Tchaikovsky, who welcomed his scrutiny.
VISITING THE TCHAIKOVSKY HOUSE
If you ever find yourself in Moscow, the two-hour trip up to Klin would be the perfect addition to your itinerary, especially if you appreciate musical history. As one of the most influential musicians ever to come from Russia, Tchaikovsky’s life was full of exciting compositions, moments, and artifacts that have been carefully preserved since his death. The trip to his museum will delight both the musicophile and anyone who enjoys learning about history.
Ticket stub as entrance-pass to Tchaikovsky's House-Museum in Klin
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