Excellent biographical source material but not a book for the casual reader of memoirs. This is a collection of factual, journalistic entries which date from 1873-1891, revealing little of the man or the composer, except perhaps that he spent most of his time composing, drinking and playing whist. Notable exceptions are Diary Eight, a meager but revealing and expressive journal, presenting Tchaikovsky as an uncompromising worshipper and a pious, devout Christian; and Diary Eleven, the account of his American tour, a mellowed and loquacious Tchaikovsky. There is nothing in these diaries that throws light on the romance or the story of Tchaikovsky and Madejda von Meck. There is little of background of the Russia of Imperialism, of Romanticism, of Russia's artistic renaissance, of the current social evils. Perhaps because Tchaikovsky was conservative, and apart from his period? There is in the diaries almost nothing of the warmth revealed in his letters, nothing of the mystery of his shyness and remoteness, his contradictory popularity and charm. A disappointment -- to anyone who hopes to know the great composer better.