Born in Kamsko-Votkinsk, Russia, Peter Tchaikovsky was not influenced by a musical background, for there was no such inclination to be had. Despite this lack of influence however, Peter began piano lessons at the age of five and this early dedication set the foundation for his musical future. As well as music, law found its way into his heart, and he subsequently served a position in the ministry of justice in St. Petersburg after completing law school. After four years, Peter returned to his true love, and enrolled in the Conservatory of music, composing and eventually becoming a professor of harmony.
Tchaikovsky entered the music scene as a successful composer with the completion of his First Symphony (1868). This accomplishment garnered the attention of Mily Balakirev, one of "The Russian Five", a group of staunch Russian nationalists. Balakirev suggested that Tchaikovsky compose Romeo and Juliet and it was miraculously completed by 1869. Tchaikovsky went on to produce three ballets, numerous piano and chamber works, opera pieces as well as orchestral compositions.
Tchaikovsky married one of his pupils in 1877, despite his homosexual tendencies. This union lasted a mere 9 weeks, and its demise propelled him into depression and thoughts of suicide. Some positivism stemmed from this emotional turbulence, as Peter completed his Fourth Symphony and his opera Eugene Onegin, whose plotline somewhat parallels to Tchaikovsky's short marriage. Upon resigning from the conservatory, he found he could not produce music as a result of his not being able to come to terms with his sexuality. This hiatus lasted until 1884, when he continued to produce music, including the ballets Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, with the support of Balakirev. Tchaikovsky was an active composer until cholera claimed his life in 1893. His music is known for being rich, colourful and imbued with unbridled emotion. Most importantly, he was responsible for introducing Western music to Russia, as well as encouraging his colleagues to try to instil this same emotion in their audiences.