Elizabeth Anne Handley, musicologist and NADFAS-accredited lecturer

This course explores Tchaikovsky’s music, which stemmed from a complex personality and highly-charged imagination, and how he advanced beyond the traditional themes of his Russian Nationalist contemporaries to create a link with the West that brought his music to the international stage.

The first lecture covers Tchaikovsky’s Western background and Russian heritage, the early years and his first successful works. The second lecture discusses his maturing oeuvre, intertwined with his relationships with two bizarre women. His final period is explored in the last lecture, which includes his successes at home and abroad. An attempt is made to throw light on the mysterious nature of his death. This course, richly illustrated with musical examples, demonstrates how Tchaikovsky’s music remains as revered and popular today as it was at his death a century and a quarter ago.



1. Introducing Tchaikovsky and his era: background and formative years

2. The growth of talent: new mastery and mature works: two influential women

3. International fame and a mysterious death: natural causes, or blackmail and suicide?


Recommended reading

Orlova, A. 1990. Tchaikovsky: A Self-Portrait. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Siepmann, J. 2007. Tchaikovsky: His Life & Music. United States of America: Naxos Audiobooks.



Date: Monday 7– Wednesday 9 January 
Time: 5.00 pm
COURSE FEES Full: R330,00  Staff and Students R165,00
Venue: LT3 Kramer Law Building UCT