Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky(7 May [O.S. 25 April] 1840 – 6 November [O.S. 25 October] 1893) was a Russian composer of the Romantic period. He was the first Russian composer whose music made a lasting impression internationally, bolstered by his appearances as a guest conductor in Europe and the United States. He was honored in 1884 by Emperor Alexander III, and awarded a lifetime pension.
Tchaikovsky was educated for a career as a civil servant and entered the nascent Saint Petersburg Conservatory, from which he graduated in 1865. The formal Western-oriented teaching he received there set him apart from composers of the contemporary nationalist movement embodied by the Russian composers of The Five, with whom his professional relationship was mixed. Tchaikovsky's training set him on a path to reconcile what he had learned with the native musical practices to which he had been exposed from childhood. From this reconciliation he forged a personal but unmistakably Russian style—a task that did not prove easy. The principles that governed melody, harmony and other fundamentals of Russian music ran completely counter to those that governed Western European music; this seemed to defeat the potential for using Russian music in large-scale Western composition or for forming a composite style, and it caused personal antipathies that dented Tchaikovsky's self-confidence. Russian culture exhibited a split personality, with its native and adopted elements having drifted apart increasingly since the time of Peter the Great. This resulted in uncertainty among the intelligentsia about the country's national identity—an ambiguity mirrored in Tchaikovsky's career.
While his music has remained popular among audiences, critical opinions were initially mixed. Some Russians did not feel it was sufficiently representative of native musical values and expressed suspicion that Europeans accepted the music for its Western elements. In an apparent reinforcement of the latter claim, some Europeans lauded Tchaikovsky for offering music more substantive than base exoticism and said he transcended stereotypes of Russian classical music. Others dismissed Tchaikovsky's music as "lacking in elevated thought", according to longtime New York Times music critic Harold C. Schonberg, and derided its formal workings as deficient because they did not stringently follow Western principles.
The "Waltz of the Flowers" (1892) is a piece of orchestral music from the second act of The Nutcracker, a ballet composed by Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky told his fellow musicians he was working on a "fantastic" ballet called The Nutcracker: "It's awfully fun to write a march for tin soldiers, a waltz of the flowers, etc."
The waltz is also the last number in his Nutcracker Suite. The "Waltz of the Flowers" is very popular. It has been arranged for various instruments and for various combinations of instruments.
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