What is the correct pronunciation of Tchaikovsky. I have heard two
versions: the most common one, but also Tchee-kovsky. Which is correct?
Philip de Vos
Cape Town, South Africa
Listen to the pronunciation in Russian film made by Igor Talankin of
1970, on the Internet edition:
... or, more simply, here:
or also here:
Thank you for the information. Even with Russian speakers I have
noticed different variations of his name and surname:
For his first name Pyotr I have heard Pee-o-ter as well as Pee-o-tre.
For his surname I have heard both Tchy (like in the English word "why")
and Tchee -kovsky.
I will soon have to record my 13 episode radio series and must at least
get the pronunciation of his name correctly.
Philip de Vos
Cape Town - South Africa
I concur with Mr. de Vos that variations of his name occur among
Russians themselves....the why for this I do not know...it would seem to
me that Tchai would be Tchai no matter what the circumstances....and not
suddenly become a Tchee....the same for his first name which is
unequivocal....it may be that some people are poorly learned in their own
language....or have applied a usage that was already there without
thinking....perhaps one of our Russian born readers can supply us with an
answer....in the States we have always gone by the official Tchai,,,tho
the ending has sometimes been kowsky...rather than kovsky with some people
who perhaps are not true fans of the composer...I think also that the more
interested you are in a man and his work the more you pay attention to the
proper pronunciation of his name...
It would depend too as to the language of the speaker...in Germany for
instance his name is spelt "Tschaikowsky"..in this case the "w" is
pronounced as a "v"....
I noted incidentally as Alexander Poznansky (Russian immigrant), into
same documentary linked above, speaking in English, pronounces the name of
(ovvero 53 minuti e 53 secondi di:
Also for other surnames (such as those of Borodin and Cui) there is
pronounces different in Russian (Barasdìn-Kiuì: "I transcribe"
Since the program made by Mr. de Vos will be in Afrikaans language, I
think he might feel comfortable using the most widely used form (Western),
mentioning, however the diversity in Russian.
Another famous case: Antonin Dvorak:
But outside of Russia or the Czech Republic, if I say Cikòvski,
Barasdìn or Vojak, I risk not being understood ...
And I may be permitted a personal memory.
Many years ago, I was an elementary school teacher in Milan and also I
was teaching a little bit of music to my young pupils. Of course I did
listen to music by Tchaikovsky. A pupil of mine, Stefania, father Italian
but Russian mother, she got up one day and he corrected me: "No, Teacher!
Not Tchaikovsky (Čajkovskij) , it is said Ciko(v)ski ... Told me so my
Thank you Albert Gasparo and Antonio Garganese for your input about the
pronunciation of Tchaikovsky.
About the the use of his second name. Evidently the second name Ilyich
refers to the name of his father Ilya.When listening to pronuciation of
his name on the 1969 Talankin Russian movie I noticed when people
addressed him they always adressed him as Pytor Ilyich but which to my ear
sounded as Pyotrilyich (one word).
I also read that his childhood governess Fanny Dürbach, being French
actually called him Pierre.
Philip de Vos
(Cape Town - South Africa)
I am also interested in this.
Isn't there a pronunciation rule in russian for which the "ch" followed
by a non-accented "a" is pronounced "chee" ? For instance, a quite common
word "часы", that is "clocks", is surely pronounced "chee-see" with the
second "ee" short and accented.
The situation is the same with Tchaikovsky, because the accent is on
Anyone can confirm this?