Nakon što je Čajkovski diplomirao, mlađi brat Antona Rubinštajna, Nikolaj, mu je ponudio mesto profesora harmonije, kompozicije i istorije muzike. Čajkovski je vrlo rado prihvatio tu ponudu jer se njegov otac bio penzionisao i izgubio imanje. Sledećih deset godina bio je predavač i kompozitor. Pokazalo se da je posao predavača iscrpljujuć pa je 1877. godine doživeo nervni slom. Nakon jednogodišnje pauze pokušao je da se vrati poslu predavača ali se ubrzo povukao sa tog položaja. Neko vreme je živeo u Italiji i Švajcarskoj, ali se na kraju nastanio kod svoje sestre, koja je imala posed u neposrednoj blizini Kieva.
Tchaikovsky took to orchestral [[conducting]] after filling in at a performance in [[Moscow]] of his [[opera]] ''[[Tcharodyeika]]'' (''Чародейка: the Enchantress/Sorceress'') (1885-7). Overcoming a life-long [[glossophobia|stage fright]], his confidence gradually increased to the extent that he regularly took to conducting his pieces.
Чајковски је боравио у [[САД]] током [], као диригент својих дела на тријумфалној турнеји.
On [[ May 5]], he conducted the [[ New York Symphony Orchestra|New York Symphony Society's]] [[ orchestra]] in a performance of ''[[Marche Solenelle]]'' on the opening night of [[ New York City|New York's]] [[ Carnegie Hall]]. That evening was followed by subsequent performances of his ''Third Suite'' on [[ May 7]], and the [[a cappella]] choruses ''[[ Pater Noster]]'' and ''[[ Legend]]'' on [[ May 8]].
Just nine days after the first performance of his [[Symphony No. 6 (Tchaikovsky)|Sixth Symphony]], ''Pathétique'', in [], in St Petersburg, Tchaikovsky died (see section below).
Some musicologists ( e.g. Milton Cross, David Ewen) believe that he consciously wrote his Sixth Symphony as his own Requiem. In the development section of the first movement, the rapidly progressing evolution of the transformed first theme suddenly "shifts into neutral" in the strings, and a rather quiet, harmonized chorale emerges in the trombones. The trombone theme bears absolutely no relation to the music that preceded it, and none to the music which follows it. It appears to be a musical "non sequitur", an anomaly — but it is from the Russian Orthodox Mass for the Dead, in which it is sung to the words: " And may his soul rest with the souls of all the saints." Tchaikovsky was interred in [[Tikhvin Cemetery]] at the [[ Alexander Nevsky Monastery]] in St Petersburg.
His music included some of the most renowned pieces of the romantic period. Many of his works were inspired by events in his life.