Tchaikovsky was born into a music loving family on May 7, 1840, in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Russia. He began taking piano lessons when he was four years old, and continued until he was ten. Then he began to study law at school. Unlike any other famous composer he grew up without seriously studying music. When he was nineteen he became a clerk in the ministry of justice. After failing to raise to a higher position, he decided to dedicate his life to music.
He was the first Russian composer to gain international fame. His music was spirited and lively-it was universal music. A master of orchestration he also possessed a gift for melody. He composed many songs, operas, ballet music, and chamber music.
He was a shy man but he decided to marry in 1877. His marriage only lasted for a few weeks. He had a huge nervous breakdown because of this horrible tragedy. At about this time his musical talent was recognized and Tchaikovsky traveled around the world playing his music.
Tchaikovsky died in 1893. His music for three ballets, the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake are still recognized all over the world. The Nutcracker Suite was Tchaikovsky's best loved of all his compositions.