In the fall of 1869, composer Mily Balakirev wrote to Tchaikovsky suggesting the composition of an overture based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. He included some music he felt appropriate for the opening and described exact working methods to help Tchaikovsky find inspiration. It is not surprising that Tchaikovsky readily complied – young and impressionable at the time, Tchaikovsky appreciated Balakirev’s interest, and went so far as to submit the completed work for corrections, though he later made further extensive changes of his own. Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique) is forever associated with the tragedy of Tchaikovsky’s sudden death from cholera. Despite his high spirits at the time he composed it as stated in a letter to his friend Davidov, “You cannot imagine what bliss it is to be convinced that my time is not yet over and that I am still able to work,” the last symphony seems inevitably to be an expression of Tchaikovsky’s emotional suffering.