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Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:
Traditional Christmas Classical Music

George Frederick Handel's Messiah wasn't written for Christmas -- it was first performed in April. Hear some other pieces of classical music that traditionally get played during the Christmas season.

Music heard in this episode:
Handel: Messiah: Ev'ry valley
Handel: Messiah: For Unto Us
Handel: Messiah: He Shall Feed His Flock
Handel: Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus
Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel: Opening and Evening Prayer
Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors: Shepherd's Dance
Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors: This is My Box
Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors: Do You Really Want to Go?
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite: Russian Dance

Other shows about Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:
About Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker

Download this month's activity sheet

About Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
5/7/1840 - 11/6/1893
Born in Russia

Piotr (or Peter, as we would say in English) Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in Votkinsk, a town in Russia's Ural Mountains. When he was 8 years old, his family moved to the capital city of St. Petersburg. Even though Tchaikovsky was a good musician as a kid, that wasn't considered an "acceptable" profession, so his parents made him study law instead.

But even in law school, Tchaikovsky continued to study music. Eventually, he gave up his legal job and went to the St. Petersburg Conservatory. After he graduated, he moved to Moscow to teach at the new conservatory there. It's now named for him.

For years, Tchaikovsky had a patroness named Nadezhda von Meck -- a wealthy widow who was a big fan of Tchaikovsky's music. She regularly sent him money so that he could concentrate on composing without having to worry about making a living. But Nadezhda von Meck didn't want to meet Tchaikovsky. For 14 years, they only communicated by writing letters to each other. Tchaikovsky dedicated his Fourth Symphony to his patroness.

Tchaikovsky traveled all over Europe for performances of his music. In 1891, he even came to America for the opening of Carnegie Hall, where he was invited to conduct his music.

See other composers born in Russia


This Week's Quiz:

1. The name of George Frederick Handel's famous oratorio that is often heard at Christmastime is

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

White Christmas

The Messiah

Silent Night

O Come All Ye Faithful

2.The hero in Gian Carl Menotti's opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, helps the wise men.



3. The name of the opera often performed at Christmas that was written by Engelbert Humperdinck is

Hansel and Gretel


The Magic Flue

William Tell

La Boheme


Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker

Composed in 1891
Performed by Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)
Ondrej Lenard, conductor

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