Tchaikovsky was the first Russian composer
whose music made a lasting impression internationally, which he
bolstered with appearances as a guest conductor later in his career in
Europe and the United States. One of these appearances was at the
inaugural concert of Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1891.
Although musically precocious, Tchaikovsky was
educated for a career as
a civil servant. There was scant opportunity for a musical career in
Russia at that time, but he did manage to entered the nascent Saint
Petersburg Conservatory. formal Western-oriented teaching he received
there set him apart from composers of the contemporary nationalist
movement, 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,
independent but unmistakably Russian style. The principles of Russian
nationalist artists were fundamentally at odds with those supporting
European traditions, and this caused personal antipathies that dented
Tchaikovsky's self-confidence. Despite his many popular successes,
Tchaikovsky's life was punctuated by personal crises and depression.