Every year the Russia’s Ministry of Culture offer’s financial support to movies made in Russia about Russian culture and its icons. This year one of the dozen or so films receiving aid is the biography “Tchaikovsky” by Kirill Serebrennikov. The screenplay written by Yuri Arabov’s,, describes the last period in the life of the great composers life But through homophobia and taking note from Russia’s anti-gay government Arabov is rewriting history and is straight-washing the fact that Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was gay.
Said Arabov about his movie and Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality: “It’s far from a fact that Tchaikovsky was homosexual. Only Philistines think that. You shouldn’t put what Philistines believe on screen.” Arabov also adds that films that “advertise” homosexuality are “outside the sphere of art.
This is nothing but more than Russian propaganda and another attack on the LGBT community because it is a well known and proven fact Tchaikovsky was indeed gay.
Although Tchaikovsky married Antonina Milyukova in 1877, he told his wife he did not love her though he would be her devoted friend. Not surprisingly, the marriage ended disastrously after a few months, which brought Tchaikovsky close to a nervous breakdown and helped him accept his unchangeable sexual nature and stop tormenting himself.
In a letter to his brother Modesto, Tchaikovsky wrote: “Only now, especially after the story of my marriage, have I finally begun to understand that there is nothing more fruitless than not wanting to be that which I am by nature.”
Later in life Tchaikovsky’s nephew Vladimir Lvovich Davïdov became his lover. Always homesick during his musical tours abroad – Tchaikovsky always longed to get back home to be with his beloved nephew – ‘my idol’ – whom he made his heir. His letter to Vlad from a hotel room in London in May 1893 shows this correspondence to have been his life-line: ‘I am writing to you with a voluptuous pleasure. The thought that this paper is going to be in your hands fills me with joy and brings tears to my eyes.’
While much material on Tchaikovsky’s life still remains to be retrieved from Russian archives and published in English it has been dicovered thsough his own letters and the diary’s of that that Tchaikovsky’s lovers included Alexey Apukhtin in his music student days 1867-70; Vladimir Shilovsky, a wealthy young lad whom he also met at the Moscow Conservatory, during 1868-72, and who financed several trips for the two of them; Alexei Sofronov his valet from 1872 to the end of his life; his pupil Eduard Zak, who killed himself in 1873 (he inspired the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture); Joseph Kotek in the mid-1870s; his nephew Vladimir Davidov (second son of his sister Alexandra) in the 1880s-1890s, to whom he dedicated the Symphonie Pathétique (1893); and the young pianist Vassily Sapelnikov who went with him on a tour to Germany, France and England. In addition, many brief affairs are recorded in his cryptographic diary; e.g. on March 22, 1889 he records that a ‘Negro came in to me’, to his hotel room in Paris.
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was indeed gay. That is a fact. And no amount of Russian anti-gay propaganda will ever change that fact.