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Pronunciation of Tchaikovsky

What is the correct pronunciation of Tchaikovsky. I have heard two versions: the most common one, but also Tchee-kovsky. Which is correct?

Philip de Vos
Cape Town, South Africa
07/06/2013 13:49

Listen to the pronunciation in Russian film made by Igor Talankin of 1970, on the Internet edition: 

(first part) 

second part

Antonio Garganese
10/06/2013 12:47

... or, more simply, here:

or also here:

Antonio Garganese
10/06/2013 13:16

Thank you for the information. Even with Russian speakers I have noticed different variations of his name and surname:

For his first name Pyotr I have heard Pee-o-ter as well as Pee-o-tre.

For his surname I have heard both Tchy (like in the English word "why") kovsky

and Tchee -kovsky.

I will soon have to record my 13 episode radio series and must at least get the pronunciation of his name correctly.

Philip de Vos
Cape Town - South Africa
13/06/2013 14:23

I concur with Mr. de Vos that variations of his name occur among Russians themselves....the why for this I do not would seem to me that Tchai would be Tchai no matter what the circumstances....and not suddenly become a Tchee....the same for his first name which is may be that some people are poorly learned in their own language....or have applied a usage that was already there without thinking....perhaps one of our Russian born readers can supply us with an the States we have always gone by the official Tchai,,,tho the ending has sometimes been kowsky...rather than kovsky with some people who perhaps are not true fans of the composer...I think also that the more interested you are in a man and his work the more you pay attention to the proper pronunciation of his name...

Albert Gasparo
14/06/2013 12:44

It would depend too as to the language of the Germany for instance his name is spelt "Tschaikowsky" this case the "w" is pronounced as a "v"....

Albert Gasparo
14/06/2013 13:01

I noted incidentally as Alexander Poznansky (Russian immigrant), into same documentary linked above, speaking in English, pronounces the name of the musician:

(ovvero 53 minuti e 53 secondi di:

Also for other surnames (such as those of Borodin and Cui) there is pronounces different in Russian (Barasdìn-Kiuì: "I transcribe" approximately).

Since the program made by Mr. de Vos will be in Afrikaans language, I think he might feel comfortable using the most widely used form (Western), mentioning, however the diversity in Russian.

Antonio Garganese
14/06/2013 13:15

Another famous case: Antonin Dvorak:

But outside of Russia or the Czech Republic, if I say Cikòvski, Barasdìn or Vojak, I risk not being understood ...

Antonio Garganese
14/06/2013 13:47

And I may be permitted a personal memory.

Many years ago, I was an elementary school teacher in Milan and also I was teaching a little bit of music to my young pupils. Of course I did listen to music by Tchaikovsky. A pupil of mine, Stefania, father Italian but Russian mother, she got up one day and he corrected me: "No, Teacher! Not Tchaikovsky (Čajkovskij) , it is said Ciko(v)ski ... Told me so my grandmother!"

Antonio Garganese
14/06/2013 18:39

Thank you Albert Gasparo and Antonio Garganese for your input about the pronunciation of Tchaikovsky.

About the the use of his second name. Evidently the second name Ilyich refers to the name of his father Ilya.When listening to pronuciation of his name on the 1969 Talankin Russian movie I noticed when people addressed him they always adressed him as Pytor Ilyich but which to my ear sounded as Pyotrilyich (one word).

I also read that his childhood governess Fanny Dürbach, being French actually called him Pierre.

Philip de Vos
(Cape Town - South Africa)
15/06/2013 17:00


I am also interested in this.

Isn't there a pronunciation rule in russian for which the "ch" followed by a non-accented "a" is pronounced "chee" ? For instance, a quite common word "часы", that is "clocks", is surely pronounced "chee-see" with the second "ee" short and accented.

The situation is the same with Tchaikovsky, because the accent is on the "o".

Anyone can confirm this?

Thank you

28/10/2013 08:20

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