>Of course Tchaikovsky was gay, which I believe had an indirect but
>profound influence on his music-making. Homosexuality was a crime
>punishable by death in czarist Russia... there is speculation Tchaikosky
>intentionally contracted cholera by drinking unboiled water, knowing that
>his orientation was dangerously close to becoming public knowledge.
Unfortunately, this is a gross simplification. There were considerable,
well-known homosexual circles in Russia, some of which included members
of the imperial family (see The Last Tsar). Furthermore, most Russians of
Tchaikovsky's social rank and above were far more cosmopolitan than many
quasi-tolerant people today. Most educated Russians, for example, sneered
at the British during the Oscar Wilde debacle. This does not, of course,
mean that the laws weren't on the books. I simply don't know of anyone who
was executed for that transgression during Tchaikovsky's time. Does
As to Tchaikovsky's fear of exposure, it seems to have come years too late.
Tchaikovsky's homosexuality was pretty well known among the members of the
musical circles in St. Petersburg, according to several sources.