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In 1876 Pyotr Tchaikovsky began an extraordinary relationship with a wealthy widow, Nadezhda von Meck (1831–94), which was totally platonic and conducted entirely by letter. The two of them never formally met, but they remained devoted to each other for the rest of their lives. Madame von Meck settled on Tchaikovsky an allowance of 6,000 roubles, which gave the composer much-needed financial security. Tchaikovsky dedicated his Fourth Symphony (1878) to her. They corresponded for the next 13 years, sometimes writing to each other every day. Tchaikovsky confided to her his innermost thoughts, his ideals and aspirations and she replied with encouragement and sympathy. Madame von Meck had made it a condition of her continuing support that the two of them would never meet, but on one occasion, she dropped her guard and invited Tchaikovsky to visit her while both of them were in Florence. Tchaikovsky demurred, but subsequently, they accidentally came face to face, and were so embarrassed that they fled. After Tchaikovsky died in 1893, Madame von Meck survived him by only two months, dying in Wiessbaden early in 1894.
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