Does anybody know about Tchaikovsky’s compositional process and how
he worked? I find this especially interesting as a musician/composer and
I have recently gained a new appreciation for his music after writing a
research paper on the conspiracies surrounding his death.
Nobody replies. So I would like to mention. Pyotr Ilyich was Mr.
Punctuality. In his childhood his governess Fanny Duerbach taught him
this practice.In his last years, he got up at seven or eight
everymorning. Then he drank a cup of tea, and read the Bible or studied
English. He took a walk for half-hour. At that time he got ideas for a
composition. He took notes of them.
From nine thirty to thirteen o'clock, he composed. At thirteen he
took lunch. After lunch he took walk alone everyday fine or rainy.At
sixteen, afternoon tea-time. He read newspapers or met visitors. From
seventeen to nineteen o'clock, he composed again.In summer before dinner
he took a walk alone or with a friend. In autumn and winter he played
After dinner he played card games, read books or wrote letters. And
at twenty-three he went to bed.
After morning walk He sketched at piano. Then he made a draft.
Another time he orchestrated or arranged it.At the composition time,
servant Aleksei Sofronov was only permitted person to enter Pyotr
Sorry for my poor English, but hope this helps you.
You ask about Tchaikovsky's compositional process and how he worked.
Well here is an article describing in depth the whole process at least
as it involved the Fifth
Symphony....it is one person's viewpoint....an
attempt at interpretation of what the composer was going
through....there are technical aspects but in general I think it is
intelligible for most....its rather detailed so it requires some
patience....In any case I think it is a good analysis....tho perhaps
I hope this is of some value to you.
Tchaikovsky's compositional process in his own words....as described
to Madame von Meck regarding the creation of his Fourth Symphony....
Tchaikovsky gives a lively description of his compositional process
at the start of his letter to Nadezhda von Meck from Florence on 17
February/1 March 1878 before setting out the "programme" of the Fourth Symphony:
"Generally speaking, the germ of a future composition comes
suddenly and unexpectedly. If the soil is ready—that is to say, if the
disposition for work is there—it takes root with extraordinary force
and rapidity, shoots up through the earth, puts forth branches,
leaves, and, finally, blossoms. I cannot define the creative process
in any other way than by this simile. The great difficulty is that the
germ must appear at a favourable moment, the rest goes of itself. It
would be in vain to try to put into words that immeasurable sense of
bliss which comes over me directly a new idea awakens in me and begins
to assume a definite form. I forget everything and behave like a
madman. Everything within me starts pulsing and quivering; hardly have
I begun the sketch ere one thought follows another. In the midst of
this magic process it frequently happens that some external
interruption wakes me from my somnambulistic state: a ring at the
bell, the entrance of my servant, the striking of the clock, reminding
me that it is time to leave off. Dreadful, indeed, are such
interruptions. Sometimes they break the thread of inspiration for a
considerable time, so that I have to seek it again—often in vain. In
such cases cool headwork and technical knowledge have to come to my
(Quoted from Rosa Newmarch (ed.), The Life and Letters of Peter
Ilich Tchaikovsky  (2004), p. 274-275)
In a letter to his former student Sergei Taneev on 1/13 August 1880
he observed that composers should avoid "clever theories" and always
write music "as their heart tells them". However, he also recognized
that inspiration only came to those who sought it out actively, and so
he often compared his job to that of an artisan, as in this interview
"My system of work is purely craftsmanlike, that is, absolutely
regular, always at the same hours of the day, without any leniency
with respect to myself. I conceive musical ideas as soon as I take up
my work, as I turn my attention from thoughts and concerns that are
foreign to my labor. The majority of ideas, incidentally, arise in me
during my daily walks; moreover, in view of my unusually poor musical
memory, I carry a notebook with me"
("A Conversation with P. I. Tchaikovsky". Quoted from Alexander
Poznansky, Tchaikovsky through Others’ Eyes (1999),