Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of Russia’s most iconic cultural figures, but the country still denies he was gay. 125 years after his mysterious death, his magnificent symphonies, operas, and ballets – including all-time classics Swan Lake and The Nutcracker – are still performed, streamed and enjoyed by millions of people around the world.
But behind Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous melodies and explosive orchestral climaxes lies the complicated story of a gay man. His sexuality brought him both joy and despair, but it was largely tolerated within Tchaikovsky’s social circles. Now his country outright denies that he was gay, bans so-called ‘gay propaganda’ and continues to torture LGBT+ people in the region of Chechnya.
So is now more important celebrate Russia’s rich queer history?
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Listen to Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3vaCn32O9E86DzxSAr2bh5?si=3ocQR1WBRSiSce2_xQN3Fg
With thanks to reporter Patrick Reardon-Morgan (@preardonmorgan), the Philharmonia Orchestra in London (@Philharmonia) and executive production from host Jamie Wareham (@jamie_wareham). Check out our guest, Jon Jacob's podcast, Thoroughly Good:
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