The carefree childhood years of Tchaikovsky, which he would always remember as the most joyful period of his life, ended much earlier than he wished.
In 1848, his father Ilya Petrovich retired from the position of the Head of Kamsk-Votkinsk Mining Plant. There is no information on if it was a free-will decision. Young Pyotr saw the family's habitual life pattern crumble. His parents looked worried and depressed. The family left Votkinsk forever, at first for Moscow and later to Saint Petersburg, where Ilya Petrovich tried to get employed.
This is what young Pyotr wrote to Fanny Dürbach: "I cannot think of life in Votkinsk. I feel like crying when I think of it."
He hardly gets on with his family's new life in Saint Petersburg, being emotionally stressed all the time due to the changes in life. Having suffered from measles in 1848, he had nervous breakdowns. He grew up and changed a lot.
In early 1849, his father was assigned as a manager of Alapayevsky and Nevyansky ironwork factories. And it was a comeback to peaceful and cozy rural life, but no for long...
In September 1850, Pyotr enrolled in the reception class of the Imperial School of Jurisprudence in Saint Petersburg.
Why did his parents choose such a career for their son, with his obviously creative and artful way of thinking? Probably, because, according to the memoirs of Vladimir Stasov who graduated from the school in 1843, it was "filled with the sounds of music from one end to the other. Students played many pianos, violins, flutes, cellos, French horns, contrabasses, not only in dormitories, but even <…> in different corners of the corridors."
Alexandra Andreyevna Tchaikovsky may have decided such an institution would fit her son, with his gentle character and musical abilities, best.
In addition to that, there were no professional educational institutions in Russia at the time. Only 12 years later, in 1862, the earliest Russian conservatory would be established in Saint Petersburg.