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Who was Madame Nedezhda von Meck to Tchaikovsky?

Esteemed for his ballet creations such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky became recognized for his skillfulness in musical compositions. With that said, Tchaikovsky received countless support, including the long-spanning emotional and financial aid from his relationship with Madame Nadezhda von Meck. 

Through the exchange of letters, Nadezhda von Meck provided a 14-year friendship to Tchaikovsky and a yearly stipend of 6,000 rubles that aided him to shift his focus entirely on his music. Despite their intimate bond, both only met once on accident. 

Tchaikovsky and His Perpetual Passion for Music

Most recognized for his ballet creations, such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake, Russian Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky established a legacy with his compositions.

Born in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Vyatka, Russia, on May 7, 1840, Tchaikovsky already pursued his interest in music at the age of 5 as he enrolled in piano lessons. With his interest in music, Tchaikovsky’s parents still yearned for him to pursue a career in the civil service field.

And although Tchaikovsky granted his parents’ wish by acquiring a job as a bureau clerk post in the Ministry of Justice in 1859, it would not last long. Staying as a bureau clerk post for four years, he eventually quit with an intent to focus on his real passion.

At 21 years of age, Tchaikovsky enrolled in music classes at the Russian Musical Society, and not long after, he became one of the first composition pupils in St. Petersburg Conservatory. When 1863 came, Tchaikovsky traveled to Moscow for a job opportunity at the Moscow University, where he became a professor of harmony. 

Tchaikovsky first received much acclaim with his First Symphony. Since then, he continued receiving praises and critics for the rest of his released work. Regardless of the harsh critics, Tchaikovsky made his way to the top as an esteemed and skillful composer of instrumental pieces.

In 1878, he resigned from his job at Moscow University to prioritize his music. By the end of his career, he created 169 pieces which included ballets, symphonies, cantatas, operas, concertos, and songs. (Source: Biography)

The Strange Von Meck and Tchaikovsky Duo

Nadezhda Filaretovna von Meck, known as Nadezhda Filaretovna Fralovskaya before her marriage to Karl Von Meck, had a significant role in Tchaikovsky’s life. With their odd yet intimate relationship lasting for more than a decade, their connection was evident through the letters they exchanged.

With the passing of Karl Von Meck came the inheritance of his fortune, and although Nadezhda received a generous amount of money, it failed to satisfy her cultural needs. As Nadezhda provided financial aid for the Russian Musical Society, she encountered Tchaikovsky’s compositions which she soon came to love.

The close friendship that spanned 14 years consisted of hundreds of exchanged letters. Additionally, their relationship became a pillar of financial aid as the affluent widow provided Tchaikovsky with a yearly allowance of 6,000 rubles. With the help of Nadezhda, Tchaikovsky resigned from his job at the Moscow Conservatory to entirely focus on his musical work. Tchaikovsky dedicated three of his compositions to her despite their privately kept relationship, namely Symphony No. 4, Souvenir d’un lieu cher, and Suite No. 1. (Source: Tchaikovsky Research

Despite their long-spanning and closely acquainted connection, the two agreed to never meet. With that said, the duo met once on accident, and upon the encounter, both exchanged only a brief acknowledgment. After meeting, Tchaikovsky quickly apologized through a letter. With a relationship lasting for more than a decade, both never intentionally met each other. (Source: Tchaikovsky: The Quest for the Inner Man

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