In September 1865 Nikolay Rubinstein, the brother’s of Tchaikovsky’s Conservatory teacher, came to St Petersburg to recruit a theory teacher for music classes in Moscow similar to those Anton had organized in St Petersburg. Tchaikovsky was offered the position, and with it a place to live in Nikolay’s quarters.” During this time, Tchaikovsky’s sexual orientation became obscured; it is said that Tchaikovsky had both homosexual and heterosexual relations. “Tchaikovsky’s letters as we have them suggest reasonable conclusions about his sexuality…Tchaikovsky expressed the belief that he could function in a heterosexual union even if he had to lead a double life.”
Tchaikovsky’s dysfunctional and ultimately disastrous marriage to Antonina Milyukova, who had been a student at the St. Petersberg Conservatory, occurred during the same time the idea for the opera Eugene Onegin was being formed. Ironically, Tchaikovsky had received a love letter from Milyukova just as the character Onegin had received a love letter from Tatyana in Pushkin’s poem. Tchaikovsky, who had a great dislike for Onegin, was horrified at the prospect of behaving in the same manner as Onegin, who rejected Tatyana and dashed her hopes of love. So, even though he explained to Milyukova that he did not and could not have any romantic feelings for her, he agreed to a secret marriage. The result of this was a nervous breakdown two weeks into the marriage and an unsuccessful attempt at suicide on Tchaikovsky’s part before he finally fled to St. Petersburg to recover. It was during and shortly after this time in his life that he composed Eugene Onegin.