I have read Chaikovsky’s biography by Anthony Holden. Recommended. Good biography, written in English, but the language is a bit heavy, besides the third of the book – citations from Chaikovsky’s letters and diaries, so I would recommend to read the Russian translation of this book. To those who can :)
Seems to me that Chaikovsky was creating the pop-music of his time. The wavelength was longer then though, and the rhythm wasn’t chopped up so rapidly as in our days’ pop. But still it is only the level of emotion. Chaikovsky was the genius of the emotion. That what we have in this biography – his emotions (mostly negative).
Here is what Chaikovky wrote about his own last symphony “Pateticheskaya”: “It is not an objective and a philosophical pessimism; it is one man's individual experience, an experience which, if it had been expressed through the medium of human speech, would have revealed its author as an abject creature crouching beneath the unappeasable winds and havocs of chronic hysteria..."