Музей П.И. Чайковского /
P.I. Chaikovsky Museum
Кудринская пл. 46/54
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The Chaikovsky Museum is part of a complex of museums in Moscow dedicated to Russian musical greats. This network consists of several small “house-museums” (дом-музей) situated in the former residences of luminaries like Sergei Prokofiev, Fydor Shalyapin, and Aleksandr Goldenweiser, with the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture serving as the main point on the tour. While interesting as museums in their own right, many of these locations regularly host concerts that range from intimate chamber-music evenings for an audience of 50 or less, to entire opera presentations (albeit without full staging.) It’s worth checking the main website before making your trip, as prices for concerts vary from free to somewhat pricey (1500 rubles plus). That said, entrance to the museums themselves is always affordable (less than 200 rubles), and there are student discounts.
House-museums tend to be small, as one might guess, and one can usually complete a tour in about an hour. The Chaikovsky museum staff is really dedicated to helping you make the most of that hour though! In comparison to many other Moscow museums, I find that the staff at the musical culture museums tends to be unusually friendly and informative. It’s clear that they are fans of their respective composers/ performers and this helps to make the experience all that much more enjoyable. It’s likely that you will get a personal even without asking for it.
While the flagship Glinka museum houses most materials of importance to researches (original musical scores, letters, etc.), the house museums are primarily full of the composers’ personal effects. Wandering from room to room, one gets a sense of what activities and people featured most prominently in the life of that musical figure. In the Chaikovsky museum, for example, there is a room devoted to one of the composer’s most famous patrons, Nadezhda von Meck. One can get up close to one of Chaikovsky’s pianos, as well as photographs and correspondence from colleagues, friends, and relatives. Many of the descriptive placards are translated into English, making it a good choice for those with no or limited-knowledge of Russian.
In my opinion, the curators have done a good job in making the museum accessible for the novice who has only a passing knowledge of classical music, yet still interesting for those who studied music and want to see artifacts of Chaikovsky’s life up-close. The museum is also located within close proximity to a few other house-museums within the Glinka-complex, making it convenient to do a tour if one so desires.
Alyssa Yorgan holds a BM (cello performance) and an MA (musicology) from Indiana University-Bloomington. She has focused most of her research on music and politics in the Soviet Union. She has studied abroad in Ufa, Russia (via a State Dept. Critical Language Scholarship) and has now worked abroad in a variety of fields including teaching English, working as a recruiter for American Councils’ FLEX program, and translating. She is currently studying through SRAS on a customized Translate Abroad internship and hopes to pursue future work in Moscow in the fields of translating, editing, and localization management.