Russian Composers

Powerful Essays
Russian composers are often mentioned in history as the most influential in the world. With style unlike any other, Russians are able to capture mood through a unique ability to capture exactly what they feel. Exactly how the Russians are able to do this is unknown, though through this, the greatest composers have turned out to be Russian. Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich are all able to write and portray the most detailed feelings and moods, and it is to them that we owe the advancement of all music.

Tchaikovsky is one of the most beloved composers in history. An inspired craftsman of melody, orchestration and tonal color, he wrote in an astonishing variety of musical forms, from symphonies to ballet scores to concertos (Sadie, 94). His life and work are the stuff of legend, and his personal struggles are almost as well recorded today as the methods by which he created his music (Osborne, 77).

He was born in Votkinsk, Russia in 1840, and was initially trained in music by a French governess (Mason, 70). At ten, he moved to St. Petersburg, where he studied law and enrolled in jurisprudence school (Ewen, 72). After his graduation in 1859, he briefly held a job as a government clerk, but soon threw out that career in favor of his musical pursuits’ (Osborne, 77). Tchaikovsky entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1861 and studied composition with Anton Rubinstein, then the most famed pianist and composer in Russia. Graduating in 1856, he found a position as a teacher at the Moscow Conservatory and began to write minor overtures, quartets and a larger symphonic work (Sadie, 94).

In 1876, Tchaikovsky entered into a relationship, which would dominate most of his career as a composer. A wealth widow, Nedezhda von Meck, had heard that Tchaikovsky was in financial straits and without ever meeting the young musician, commissioned several works from him with pricey fees attached. Soon, she put the composer on a fixed allowance, which covered his basic living expenses, and this arrangement lasted for the next thirteen years, without the two ever meeting. By Madame von Meck’s generosity, Tchaikovsky was able to devote his energy to composition without hardship. Madame von Meck deserves the gratitude of every music lover who cherishes the work of this great composer (Mason, 70).

In 1877, Tchaikovsky was married to Antonia...

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...ed years. What do they all have in common? There is no documented reason, except that the all are Russian and both Rachmaminoff and Shostakovich probably studied Tchaikovsky works and this possibly influenced their own personal style. These composers should be considered the greatest composers as their music lives inside everyone alike, young and old, every race and nationality and it shall continue as we continue to honor these three great composers, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich.


Ewen, David. Composers of Tomorrows Music.

New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1972.

Mason, Daniel. The Romantic Composers.

New York: Macmillan Company, 1970.

Osborne, Charles, ed. The Dictionary of Composers.

New York: Taplinger Publishing 1977.

Sadie, Stanley, ed. The Norton Grove Encyclopedia ofMusic.

New York: W.W.Norton & Company, 1994.

Salzman, Eric. Twentieth-Century Music: An Introduction.

New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1974.

Williams, Edward. “Shostakovich, Dimitri”

World Book Encyclopedia: World Book,1992.
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