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The Peter Tchaikovsky Story

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"The Peter Tchaikovsky Story" is an episode of Walt Disney Presents. It aired on January 30, 1959.


The story of young Tchaikovsky through the premiere of his "Sleeping Beauty" ballet.

Featured cartoons

  • Steamboat Willie (clips shown in one version of the introduction)
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (clips shown in one version of the introduction)
  • Fantasia (The shots of the orchestra playing at the premiere of Tchaikovsky's ballet "The sleeping Beauty" are taken from the "Toccata and Fugue" segment of "Fantasia".)
  • Sleeping Beauty (clips shown to help promote the movie)


  • ABC originally broadcast this episode in black and white.
  • Although loosely based on Tchaikovsky's life, this film, having been made for the Disney TV show during the 1950's, does not discuss or even hint at certain facts about his life which would have been taboo at the time - primarily the fact that he was gay.
  • The shots of the orchestra playing at the premiere of Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" are taken from the live-action segments of Disney's "Fantasia".
  • Leon Askin, who plays Anton Rubinstein in the film, and John Banner, who plays the Office Supervisor, later appeared together on the hit TV series "Hogan's Heroes". They played, respectively, General Burkhalter and Sergeant Schultz.
  • Walt Disney's ideal vision of telecasting this program in widescreen and stereophonic sound is now an everyday reality thanks to HDTV. Unfortunately, he did not live to see it.
  • Although Walt Disney claims in his introduction that the "Sleeping Beauty" scenes will be shown in widescreen on this program, this is not the case. What happens is that we see a simulated scene of the film being shown in a theatre in Technirama 70. Then the camera moves closer and closer to the movie screen, making sure it does not cut anything (or much of anything) at the sides, producing a sort of precursor to modern "letterboxing" of widescreen films on television.
  • The "stereophonic" version of this episode begins with Walt Disney recalling different firsts in Disney history, then proclaiming that this marks the first TV broadcast with widescreen clips and stereophonic audio. He proceeds to instruct the viewers on how to set up their radios to enjoy the broadcast. Viewers who could only watch this episode in mono audio saw an introduction with Walt skipping over these instructions.


  • Grant Williams as Peter Tchaikovsky (the man)
  • Rex Hill as Peter Tchaikovsky (the boy)
  • Leon Askin as Anton Rubinstein
  • Lilyan Chauvin as Fanny Durbach
  • Narda Onyx as Desiree Artot
  • Gregory Gaye as Major Mashovksy (as Gregory Gay)
  • John Banner as Office Supervisor
  • Edith Evanson as Mother Tchaikovsky
  • Alex Gerry as Father Tchaikovsky
  • Galina Ulanova as Odette in 'Swan Lake'
  • Walt Disney as Himself - Host


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