Emperor ("Tsar") of Russia (b. 26 February/10 March 1845 in Tsarskoye Selo; d. 20 October/1 November 1894 at Livadiya, Crimea), born Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Romanov (Александр Александрович Романов), with the title Grand Duke; upon his accession to the Russian throne in 1881, he became His Imperial Majesty Alexander III (Александр III Александрович).
Tchaikovsky and Tsar Alexander III
Grand Duke Aleksandr Aleksandrovich was the second son of Alexander II (1818–1881) by his wife Mariya Aleksandrovna (b. Marie of Hese, 1824–1880). On the death of his elder brother Nikolay in 1865, he unexpectedly became heir to the Russian throne, and carried out his brother's wish that he should marry his fiancée, the Danish Princess Maria Dagmar (1847–1928), who subsequently became the Grand Duchess Mariya Fyodorovna. Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write a Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem, Op. 15, as part of the wedding festivities, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a set of jewelled cuff-links, which he promptly sold on to Aleksandr Dubuque.
Following the assassination of his father In March 1881, Aleksandr succeeded to the Russian throne as His Imperial Majesty Alexander III. For the coronation celebrations in May 1883, Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write a festival cantata — entitled Moscow — and a Coronation March for orchestra.
Alexander III greatly admired Tchaikovsky's music, and members of the Imperial family frequently attended Tchaikovsky's operas and ballets, buying up new editions of Tchaikovsky's music to play at home. Tchaikovsky's outstanding merits as a citizen were also appreciated: he was awarded the Order of Saint Vladimir (4th class) and a lifetime pension, and was presented with a valuable ring as a personal gift from the Emperor. His death was reported to have "grieved the Emperor and Empress greatly", and Alexander III personally decreed that Tchaikovsky should be given a state funeral.
Three of Tchaikovsky's works were dedicated to Alexander III.
- Festival Overture on the Danish National Anthem, Op. 15 (1866)
- Coronation March (1883)
- Moscow, coronation cantata (1883).
Correspondence with Tchaikovsky
One letter from Tchaikovsky to Alexander III has survived, dating from 1887, and has been translated into English on this website: