Discussion of Tchaikovsky’s personal life, especially his sexuality, has perhaps been the most extensive of any composer in the 19th century and certainly of any Russian composer of his time. It has also at times caused considerable confusion, from Soviet efforts to expunge all references to same-sex attraction and portray him as a heterosexual, to efforts at armchair analysis by Western biographers. A current tendency is to discuss Tchaikovsky’s personal life candidly.
Tchaikovsky lived as a bachelor most of his life. In 1877, at the age of 37, he wedded a former student, Antonina Miliukova.The marriage was a disaster. Mismatched psychologically and sexually, the couple lived together for only two and a half months before Tchaikovsky left, overwrought emotionally and suffering from an acute writer’s block. Tchaikovsky’s family remained supportive of him during this crisis and throughout his life. He was also aided by Nadezhda von Meck, the widow of a railway magnate who had begun contact with him not long before the marriage. As well as an important friend and emotional support she also became his patroness for the next 13 years, which allowed him to focus exclusively on composition.
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