Ilya Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky Research
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Ilya Tchaikovsky (1795–1880)
From an original portrait in the Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve at Klin

Father of the composer (b. 20/31 July 1795 in Slobodskoy, near Vyatka; d. 9/21 January 1880 in Saint Petersburg), born Ilya Petrovich Chaykovsky (Илья Петрович Чайковский).


Ilya was the fifth son of Pyotr Fyodorovich Tchaikovsky (1745–1818) and his wife Anastasiya (b. Posokhova, 1751–?), and became one of the foremost metallurgists in Russia. After graduating from the Saint Petersburg Mining College, from 1818 to 1821 he served as a mining engineer at the Perm iron works, and between 1821 and 1831 in the Department for Iron and Salt Affairs, where he enjoyed a broad authority within the Yekaterinburg region — from governing local factories to repealing the decisions of local courts.

On 11/23 September 1827, he married for the first time to Mariya Karlovna Keizer (d. 1831), and they had a daughter — Zinayda (1829–1878).

Over the next few years Ilya Tchaikovsky served as administrator of the Onezhsky salt board (1831–1837) and director of the Kamsko-Votkinsk iron works (1837–1848). In 1848, Ilya Tchaikovsky resigned his post in Votkinsk and brought his family to Moscow, and later, in anticipation of a new appointment, to Saint Petersburg. However, the expected position in the capital did not materialize, and in May 1849 he returned with his family to the Urals, where he was appointed manager of the Alapayevsk and Nizhe-Nevyanskey iron works (1849–1852).

He married his second wife, Aleksandra Assier (1812–1854) on 1/13 October 1833, and the couple had seven children: Yekaterina (d. in infancy); Nikolay (1838–1911); Pyotr (1840–1893), the composer; Aleksandra (1841–1891); Ippolit (1843–1927); Anatoly (1850–1915); and Modest (1850–1916).

In 1852 Ilya returned to Saint Petersburg, and in 1858 he was appointed director of the Technological Institute in the capital, where he worked until his retirement in 1863. He married for the third and final time to Yelizaveta Lipport (1829–1910).

Ilya Tchaikovsky enjoyed music, and played the flute sufficiently well to participate in amateur concerts, and he also encouraged his children's interest in music. Although he hoped that his son Pyotr would have a successful career in the civil service, he gave both moral and financial support to his son's decision to leave the Ministry of Justice to try to become a professional composer.

Correspondence with Tchaikovsky

57 letters from Tchaikovsky to his father have survived, dating from 1850 to 1879, all of which have been translated into English on this website:

27 letters from Ilya Tchaikovsky to the composer, dating from 1865 to 1877 (a4, Nos. 4629–4653 and 5077), and a further 33 letters written jointly by Ilya and his wife Aleksandra, dating from 1850 to 1852, are preserved in the Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve at Klin.


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