Originally Posted by Despina41
Can't we decide on a transliteration system for Russian? gah.
We can! But try persuading everyone to use it!
The most commonly-encountered "Standard" for transliteration to English is the Harvard Convention. However, what works in English doesn't always work in German or Italian or French - and when these composers worked in France, or were published in Germany. variant spellings arose. For example there is no reason for the leading "t-" on Tchaikovsky or Tcherepnin - except that both were published by Jurgenson, a Moscow publisher who exported widely to Germany, and had to provide German versions of the composer-names he published.
Also, the Harvard system would insist on logical consistency - so if you are going call the Armenian capital "Erevan", then you have to spell the ex-President at Boris Eltsin - which no-one does.