Carnegie Hall burst onto the international stage when Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky—the world's most illustrious and popular musician—stepped out to conduct at its first Opening Night in 1891. His vivid, powerful music and flowing melodies had already swept the world, leading the way for a striking new dynasty of composers that included Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich.
In October, Valery Gergiev and his Mariinsky Orchestra commemorate that performance by performing his symphonies, one through six—all part of a focus on the composer and his successors that also includes performances by Anna Netrebko and Ensemble ACJW.
Our partner organizations explore Tchaikovsky’s influence on other St. Petersburg artists, from Balanchine to Fabergé.
The Harriman Institute at Columbia University | New York City Ballet | The New York Public Library | Musica Sacra | The School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center | Sotheby’s, Russian Art Department
Tchaikovsky in St. Petersburg is sponsored by PwC
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-93) was the first famous graduate of the then recently inaugurated St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he studied piano, flute, organ, music theory, and composition from 1862 to 1865. He was later recruited to be a founding member of the faculty at the newly created Moscow Conservatory. Reportedly an extreme taskmaster, Tchaikovsky resented the time that teaching stole from composing, although within just a few years he managed to write some of his early masterworks and most popular pieces, including the orchestral fantasy Romeo and Juliet (1869), the ballet Swan Lake (1875), the Piano Concerto No. 1 (1875), the opera Eugene Onegin (1879), and the Symphony No. 4 (1878).
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Maestro Gergiev discusses Tchaikovsky's six symphonies, the theatricality in his work, and St. Petersburg—the city with which the composer is closely associated.
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Video and audio excerpts of Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky's symphonies.
Gino Francesconi, director of Carnegie Hall's archives and Rose Museum, discusses the connections between Tchaikovsky, America, and Carnegie Hall.
Using your smartphone, step back in time and experience New York City as Tchaikovsky did. We’ve researched 22 sites from Carnegie Hall to Union Square that Tchaikovsky mentioned in his diary from those busy days in 1891. Many of the sites are still extant, though some are unfortunately gone.
Discover your own route, picking only the sites you want to visit, or start at Carnegie Hall heading downtown or at Union Square heading uptown. Whatever your path may be, history is all around you …
if you just know where to look.
Download the walking tour free on iTunes >
The Android version of the mobile app will be available soon.