Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) is one of the greatest composers in the history of world music. The main museum devoted to him is located in the town of KlinRussian: Клин in Moscow OblastRussian: Moskovskaya oblast or Московская область, in the house where Tchaikovsky spent his last years. Today, this is the oldest music memorial museum in Russia. It was created by Tchaikovsky’s brother, Modest Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who felt that it was his duty to preserve everything which surrounded Pyotr Tchaikovsky in the last years of his life, including authentic music scores, diaries, letters, along with his library, personal effects and furniture.
History of the museum
Pyotr Tchaikovsky had been renting houses near the town of Klin since 1885. It was no accident that he chose this small town to relax and compose in, in private surroundings. There was a railroad station here, and it was therefore easily accessible – Tchaikovsky could get to St. Petersburg or Moscow at any time. “I need – I feel it – to settle in a village or in Klin, which amounts to the same thing, so that I know that I have a quiet place where I can work when I feel like it,” Tchaikovsky wrote to his brother, Anatoly Ilyich. “Besides, my habit of coming to Klin plays a major role. The house has a wonderful view, and the garden is big enough.”
Tchaikovsky lived in this country home on the outskirts of Klin from May 1891 until October 1893. In his lifetime, Tchaikovsky rented this house, and it was only after his death that his brother Modest Tchaikovsky and nephew V. Davydov bought it. They decided to dedicate the country house to music lovers and subsequently, they created a museum here. An annex was later added to the main building, and this was where the museum’s founders settled. 9 December 1894 is thought to be when the museum opened, as this is when the first comment was written in the visitors’ book.
Atmosphere of the museum
The 19th-century atmosphere and interior are carefully preserved in Tchaikovsky’s country home. When you enter the home, you feel that you have returned to the times when Tchaikovsky lived here, flipped through newspapers while sipping his morning tea, played works on the piano, read books and wrote numerous letters.
In the middle of the reception room and study is Tchaikovsky’s grand piano, which served him since 1885. Even today, it delights visitors when it is played on Tchaikovsky’s birthday (7 May), on the day of his death (6 November), on his name day, and also on some special occasions. Many noted pianists have been given the privilege of touching the keys of Tchaikovsky’s grand piano.
On the walls of the reception room are many photographs of Tchaikovsky’s family, musicians, artists, friends and pupils. After settling here, Tchaikovsky wrote that his servant Alyosha “arranged everything the way it should be, just some photographs need to be moved”. On one of the walls is a picture of Anton Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky’s teacher, whom he venerated all his life.
It is in his bedroom where Tchaikovsky composed his 6th Symphony, the 3rd Piano Concert, various piano pieces and romances on a plain wooden table overlooking the garden. Scattered on this table are music scores and sketches.
Excursions, concerts and exhibitions
The exhibition on display here is not very large, but what is interesting about it is its authenticity. Visitors will not see any inscriptions or information plaques which would otherwise perturb the atmosphere of the house. It is recommended to rely on the assistance of a guide. Excursions are available in Russian, English, German and French and include sound recordings of Tchaikovsky’s compositions. You can also use an audio guide and listen to the recorded excursion in Russian, English, German, French, Italian or Japanese, complete with selections of Tchaikovsky’s music compositions. The museum grounds include a modern concert and exhibition complex, where noted modern composers give performances, and the exhibition halls host temporary themed exhibitions from the museum’s collections. For instance, the exhibition titled Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Life Symphony. The Artist’s Legacy and LifeRussian: P.I. Chaykovskiy — simfoniya «Zhizn». Tvorcheskiy put i sudba hudozhnika or П.И. Чайковский — симфония «Жизнь». Творческий путь и судьба художника was arranged here to mark the 175th anniversary of the birth of Pyotr Tchaikovsky. On display were a variety of documents, photographs, personal effects and autographs which are usually stored in the museum’s offsite archives, and can be viewed only on such temporary exhibitions. Visitors were also given the opportunity to hear a sound recording of Tchaikovsky’s voice, made with an Edison phonograph.
A monument not built by human hands
Located near the house is a small park with many trees planted by the world’s top musicians such as Riccardo Muti, Leopold Stokowski, Antonina Nezhdanova, Leonid Sobinov, Maria Bieşu and artists from the La Scala opera house. Strolling along the alleys, diving into the 19th-century world inside Tchaikovsky’s house and breathing fresh air outside Moscow will fill any admirer of Tchaikovsky’s music with delight.
The town of Klin is located on the Moscow-St. Petersburg road, located 86 kilometres northwest of Moscow. You can get here by car in 1.5-2 hours. Public transportation is also available by suburban train, departing from the Leningradsky railway stationRussian: Leningradskiy vokzal or Ленинградский вокзал to Klin (and then by bus), or by intercity bus, departing from Vodny StadionRussian: Водный стадион Metro Station in Moscow.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com