Tchaikovsky: Turmoil and Triumph

Over 2 half Saturdays, 9:30 am - 1:00 pm 16 and 23 October 2021, online via Zoom


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky created some of the most well-loved music of the classical repertoire, including Swan Lake, the Nutcracker Suite and the 1812 Overture as well as his wonderful symphonies and concertos. Yet the composer was haunted by self-criticism and the criticism of others all his life. This course examines the troubled life of this great composer and the passionate, intense music which came from his struggle. No prior musical knowledge is necessary.

How to enrol

Course Outline

Session 1

  • What do we think of when we think of Tchaikovsky?
  • Tchaikovsky’s Place in Music History
  • Social and Historical Background: The Romantic Period
  • The Romantic Period in Russia
  • Tchaikovsky’s Musical Style
  • The Nutcracker Suite

Session 2

  • The Early Years
  • Boarding school
  • Public Servant
  • Professional Musician
  • The First Symphony
  • Romeo and Juliet

Session 3

  • Tchaikovsky’s Marriage
  • Nadezhda von Meck
  • Swan Lake
  • The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Symphonies
  • Eugene Onegin
  • The First Piano Concerrto
  • The Violin Concerrto

Session 4

  • The Liturgy of Saint John Chrisostom
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • The 5th and 6th Symphonies
  • The Queen of Spades
  • The Nutcracker Suite
  • Tchaikovsky’s final years
  • The 1812 Overture

How to Enrol

Saturdays 16 and 23 October 2021
9:30 am - 1:00 pm (One course takes place over two half days)
Online via Zoom
Centre for Continuing Education, The University of Sydney
$140.00 inc GST
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Book cover Tchaikovsky: Turmoil and Triumph

Buy the course notes for this class

In hard copy book form, through Lulu Press
$18 + postage
A digital copy of these notes will be provided free with enrolment.


“Thank you for another enjoyable day exploring Tchaikovsky’s significant contributions to symphonies, concertos, operas, ballets, choral and chamber music. The variety of media utilised during theday engaged our senses and emotions, with stories of his personal life rounding out the day”

“The delivery and research was first class. Well paced and presented. Great example pieces and references”

“I especially like the way the analysis is shown on the screen, section by section. This, to a non-musically trained person, is very helpful. I'm sure I'll enjoy Tchaikovsky's music more in the future”

“Expert knowledge and well delivered course. Very impressed”

“The courses are always enjoyable and give an insight into the composers. Thankyou for an interesting day”

“Susan knows well and loves deeply her composer and his music. We were enchanted today, informed, intrigued, and delighted by the excellent music played. There was plenty of variety in presentation and in the music chosen. Great!”

About Susan Deas

Susan Deas is a professional musician, lecturer and teacher. She has been teaching music appreciation courses for more than twenty years, through Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education, WEA Sydney and at other venues. Her training includes a Bachelor of Music with a major in Performance (Piano) and Musicology, a Master of Music Studies (Studio Pedagogy), a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), and an A.Mus.A in Musicianship. Susan teaches piano and music theory to adults and children, and plays piano and organ at various venues around Sydney. Susan is an accredited piano teacher and musicianship teacher, and is on the Council of the Music Teachers’ Association of NSW.

More about Susan’s qualifications

Read what people have said about Susan’s other courses

Susan’s other music courses