The Capriccio italien is another reasonably famous piece, a medley of various Italian songs he claimed to have heard on vacation. Or cribbed from anthologies, showing that the practice of sampling is nothing new in music.
Tchaikovsky has a tendency to repeat motifs and themes, both large sections of a piece and small bits of a few bars that make up those themes.
His private life was almost as interesting. He's the earliest composer we know, for sure, was homosexual, and he suffered for it during his lifetime.
Tropes present in his life and work
- Armored Closet Gay: In 19th century Russia, how could he be otherwise?
- The Beard: His marriage, which was a disaster.
- Driven to Suicide: There are some people who think that he committed suicide instead of dying of cholera.
- Gayngst: Pretty self-explanatory.
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: While The Nutcracker became his most popular work, he was not generally pleased with the score, and was disappointed that his other compositions didn't fare as well with the public.
"I gave them a masterpiece in Swan Lake, but all they want from me is fluff."
- Orchestral Bombing: Pretty much the entire point of the 1812 Overture, in which the score (depicting Russia's defeat of Napoleon's army) actually calls for real cannons to be fired at the finale. To quote Calvin and Hobbes:
"And they perform this in crowded concert halls?? Gee, I thought classical music was boring!"
- Platonic Life Partners: He was this with Nadezhda von Meck.
- Standard Snippet: His music is a particularly rich source of these. Many themes of The Nutcracker (thanks to Fantasia), the 1812 Overture, Marche Slav, and the use of the great crescendo from the overture to Romeo and Juliet used in just about every love scene ever.
- Transparent Closet: To those who knew him personally.