The Russian composer began his career in 1863, after having studied law and at the Conservatory under Anton Rubinstein. After a failed marriage with one of his female admirers (for Tchaikovsky had discovered his passion for men), the composer left Russia in 1877 to settle in Geneva and then in Clarens. From Switzerland, he continued his intense correspondence with Nadezhda von Meck, a wealthy widow who supported him financially so that he could devote himself fully to his art.
The musician went to the Pension Richeliey in Clarens, where he installed his piano and composed several works such as Eugene Onegin and Joan of Arc. In the company of his lover, violinist Kotek, he composed his famous Violin Concertos.
Tchaikovsky saw the Geneva Riviera as a constant source of inspiration. The composer loved the way the lake sparkled and he went for many boat rides with the hotel-keeper's son. In thanks, the composer gave the young man a rare puzzle of Europe. This puzzle was highly coveted by the Tchaikovsky Museum, but the boatman's family still refuse to part with it.
In 1877, Tchaikovsky took a yearlong trip to Italy, before
returning to Clarens, where he appreciated the ambiance of the Pension Richelieu,
the comfort of his room and the attentive service. At the height of his glory,
Tchaikovsky left for Moscow and then for America. He died of cholera in 1893,
followed by his benefactress three months later.