I am doing a middle school project on Tchaikovsky and I am wondering if
he had any famous quotes.
Two quotes by Tchaikovsky sprang to mind when I saw your question. One
is from a letter to his younger brother Anatolii on 3/15 August 1878:
"To regret the past, to hope in the future, and never to be satisfied
with the present: that is what I spend my whole life doing"
Significantly, Rosa Newmarch used this as an epigraph for her edited
translation of the biography of Tchaikovsky written by Anatolii's twin
brother Modest. (Although Tchaikovsky wrote these words not long after the
crisis year of 1877, it is possible to see in them a kind of motto which
stayed with him all his life, because he was almost never satisfied with
his latest work.) Her book The Life and Letters of Peter Ilich
Tchaikovsky first came out in 1905, but it has been reprinted several
times, most recently in 2004, and if you can find a copy in a local
library, I think it could certainly help you further with your project.
The other quote is from a letter to Nadezhda von Meck on 23 November/5
"…You see, my dear friend, I am made up of contradictions, and I have
reached a very mature age without resting upon anything positive,
without having calmed my restless spirit either by religion or
philosophy. Undoubtedly I should have gone mad but for music. Music is
indeed the most beautiful of all Heaven's gifts to humanity wandering in
the darkness. Alone it calms, enlightens, and stills our souls. It is
not the straw to which the drowning man clings; but a true friend,
refuge, and comforter, for whose sake life is worth living"
In Rosa Newmarch's book (from which the above is quoted) you can see
the full context of this letter.