This article examines the writing and reception of Tchaikovskii's biography in Russia since 1991, arguing that there has been a constant tension between documentary approaches to the composer's life on the one hand, and popular responses that have frequently resisted scholarly narratives on the other. After the Soviet collapse, a number of former taboos relating to Tchaikovskii's life were lifted, including his homosexuality. Documentary sources began to appear in print, including unexpurgated editions of his letters and diaries. Yet this process has not been without its detractors. Alongside a general tendency to decry the publication and citation of intimate personal correspondence, there have been a number of attempts in the popular press to “disprove” that Tchaikovskii was a homosexual. Social media have proved to be a further site for the discussion of these issues, disseminating the findings of scholarly literature to a readership far wider than originally anticipated. By way of conclusion, it will be suggested that one of the fundamental reasons for the frequent denial of Tchaikovskii's sexuality is that the cause of equal rights is in tension with current trends in Russian politics and society.
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