Centre for Continuing Education

Great Composers Course: Tchaikovsky

Music. Learn, enjoy, appreciate.

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses online and in-person. Please check the delivery format of each class before enrolling.

Please note that course materials (excluding prescribed texts) are shared electronically within 48 hours of course commencement. Printing is not available.

Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky created some of the most well-loved music of the classical repertoire, including the Nutcracker Suite, the 1812 Overture and Swan Lake. Yet the man was haunted all his life by self-doubt and the criticism of others.

We will examine the life of Tchaikovsky, richly illustrated with musical examples which came from his perseverance.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • identify some aspects of Tchaikovsky’s musical style
  • describe how Tchaikovsky’s music is related to the Romantic period
  • identify some of the genres of music composed by Tchaikovsky
  • list some of Tchaikovsky’s major works, and describe their place in his musical output
  • list some significant events in the life of Tchaikovsky.



  • What do we think about when we think about Tchaikovsky?
  • Tchaikovsky’s place in music history
  • Tchaikovsky’s musical style: what makes Tchaikovsky sound like Tchaikovsky
  • The Romantic period: Music in Tchaikovsky’s time
  • Major events in the life of Tchaikovsky
  • Tchaikovsky’s early years
  • A career in music
  • The early symphonies
  • Tchaikovsky’s disastrous marriage
  • Tchaikovsky and Nadezhda von Meck: one thousand letters
  • Tchaikovsky and the Russian Five
  • The commission for the 1812 Overture
  • Journey to America and Carnegie Hall
  • Tchaikovsky’s last years
  • Tchaikovsky’s ballets
  • Tchaikovsky’s symphonies
  • Tchaikovsky’s concertos


We will listen to many Tchaikovsky pieces, both famous and less-known. These include:

  • The Nutcracker Suite
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Swan Lake
  • The 1812 Overture
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Piano Concerto No. 1
  • Violin Concerto
  • Eugene Onegin
  • The Queen of Spades
  • The Seasons
  • Tchaikovsky’s Symphonies
  • The Liturgy of St John Chrysostum

Intended audience

Designed for fans of classical music, beginners and experienced listeners alike.



Delivery style

This course is richly illustrated with musical examples, illustrations and video clips. Susan Deas uses the piano to demonstrate musical concepts to the everyday listener. Questions are encouraged, and there will be room for discussion throughout the course.


Handouts are provided electronically.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

Great Composers Course: Tchaikovsky

<p>{block name:“Course Tagline - Music”}</p><p>{block name:“Block - COVID 19 updates”}</p><p>Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky created some of the most well-loved music of the classical

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