This is a wonderful and moving book of correspondence and biographical documents promising one Tchaikovsky in its subtitle and introduction, but actually delivering another — and thank the musical gods for that. Nothing here is horrid or even secret; the Russian edition was published in 2009 and has been used by English-speaking authorities since. And yet it claims to ‘unlock’ scandal: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky often swore in his letters (shock!), had many homosexual encounters, including one-night stands (covered in previous biographies) and felt at home in the upper echelons of the 19th-century Russian autocracy.
Indeed, some find Tchaikovsky troublesome, such as the Soviets, readers of this book’s original Russian edition (one review thinking it a hoax, a gay composer not being seen as capable of beauty), and even partly Tchaikovsky himself, who burnt many of his diaries.