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Episode 5: The mystery of Tchaikovsky’s death

  • Broadcast in Entertainment
Classic FM

Classic FM


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In 1893 the composer Tchaikovsky breathed his last. He had become a celebrity in his native Russia and been showered with honours. But Tchaikovsky had a secret. He was gay. And in Russia at the time that was illegal. Attempts by authorities and historians to cover this up have meant that Tchaikovsky’s life and death became shrouded with mystery. In this episode, we try to get to the bottom of exactly what happened to one of the greatest musicians the world has ever seen. This episode tackles subjects that some listeners might find upsetting.

Original music was written by Thomas Hewitt Jones (@thewittjones).

Tim Lihoreau can be found on Twitter (@TimLihoreau) and the Classic FM team can be found @ClassicFM. You can get in touch about the show at and find out more about this episode at

The recordings featured in this episode are:
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from ‘The Nutcracker’
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Neeme Järvi

Swan Lake
James Ehnes (violin), Bergen Philharmonic, Neeme Järvi

‘Eugene Onegin’
Yuri Mazurok (Eugene Onegin), Anna Tomowa-Sintow (Tatyana), Nicolai Gedda (Lensky), Rossitsa Troeva-Mircheva (Olga); Sofia National Opera Chorus, Sofia Festival Orchestra, Emil Tchakarov

Symphony No.6
Musicaeterna, Teodor Currentzis