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Artists & People in Montreux

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Piotr Tchaïkovski and Montreux

The Russian composer initiated his career in 1863, after law studies and having participated at Anton Rubinstein’s courses at the Conservatory.

He discovered his passion for men and divorced his wife, left Russia in 1877 and settled down first in Geneva, then in Clarens, small hamlet in the Commune of Montreux.

Even living in Switzerland, he continued his intense relationship with his pen pal Nadeja von Meck, a rich widow who sent him money allowing him to focus on his artistic creations. The musician stayed at the "Pension Richelieu" in Clarens, where he put his piano and composed various pieces of music like "Eugène Onéguine" and "Jeanne d’Arc". In this very house, living with his lover Kotek, a violinist, he composed his famous "Concertos for violins". The Swiss Riviera was for Tchaikovsky a permanent source of inspiration. The composer loved the glimmering of the lake and made frequent boat trips with the hotel owner’s son. As a sign of his gratefulness, the composer offered the young man a rare puzzle showing Europe. After his death, the Tchaikovsky museum wanted to acquire this puzzle, but the hotel owner family always refused to hand it over.

In 1877, Tchaikovsky spent a whole year in Italy, and then came back to Clarens where he continued to particularly appreciate the "Pension Richelieu", his comfortable room and the diligent service. At the zenith of his glory, he travelled to Moscow, later to America.

In 1893, being a cholera patient, he passed away, followed by his patron three months later.

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