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After World War II, while awaiting permission to enter Russia at a Trans-Caucasian checkpoint, Russian lieutenant Sergei Ivanov informs two American officers that the large crate he has with him contains documents, music scores, etc., belonging to famed Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The Germans stole the relics during the war and Sergei has been assigned to repatriate them as his father Stephan had been Tchaikovsky's friend and manservant. Sergei then relates some details of Tchaikovksy's life to the Americans: At a rehearsal of his Swan Lake ballet, the orchestra's conductor quits, forcing Tchaikovsky to conduct the score himself. The Czar attends the premiere but is not impressed by the ballet. When an anonymous baroness offers to pay for the publication of his Third Symphony, Tchaikovsky rejects the offer as he does not wish to be regarded as a charity case. Later, at the Imperial Conservatory of Music, after Tchaikovsky and fellow composers Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, César Cui and Modest Moussorgsky congratulate Alexander Borodin on a new composition, the conservatory's director insists that they all should work together to produce a national music. Tchaikovsky states that great music cannot be created by a committee, and as he leaves the conservatory, he encounters Sophia Mirova, a second year student, singing one of his compositions. Eventually they marry, although Stephan advises against it, stating that Sophia is not the right girl for him. Sergei tells the American officers that Sophia proved to be frivolous and non-supportive and that the marriage soon ended in divorce. Later, as Sergei continues, Tchaikovsky is ill and working on his Piano Concerto in B-Flat Minor, when a letter from a mysterious female admirer is delivered, inviting him to recuperate at an Italian villa. His hostess is revealed to be the Princess Amalya, a beautiful young woman, whose father is an uncle to the Czar. They fall in love, but when Tchaikovsky wants her to accompany him to America, she refuses. As the Czar has apparently refused to approve their marriage, her father, a Grand Duke, arrives to take her home. Tchaikovsky then wanders all over Europe, goes to America and continues composing, eventually returning to Russia world famous. When Amalya and her father attend one of Tchaikovsky's concerts, the Grand Duke is considerably impressed by him and offers to help the young couple to reunite in Italy, but notes that it will take time to arrange. However, during a cholera epidemic, Tchaikovsky drinks contaminated water and becomes deathly ill. Stephan brings Amalya to his bedside but Tchaikovsky does not survive. Later at the checkpoint, Sergei and the officers attend a concert featuring Tchaikovsky's music.