I have been an ardent listener of Tchaikovsky's music for the past 10
years. In fact I probably own about 85% of his available recorded works.
I'm not a classical music aficionado by any means but I love his music. I
was wondering if there were any other composer(s) well known or obscure,
who are at all similar to Tchaikovsky in style, tone, expressiveness
and/or melodic prowess? I have limited knowledge of other composers' music
and I want to expand my musical horizons but I'd like to stay within
earshot of his musical style if possible. Can anyone help?
Your question is quite far fetching. Many dozen names of well loved
composers can be mentioned in response. I invite you to listen to the
music of Bizet, Verdi, Gounod, Rossini, and many other of Tchaikovsky's
I would very interested in you reaction to the music by Michael Glinka. Glinka was the founder of what is now known as the Russian music. He was a
predecessor of Tchaikovsky, and according to admission by Tchaikovsky and
other Russian composers, such as Dargomyzhsky, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Serov, Cui, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, they all heavily indebted to Glinka.
I can quote such works by Glinka as Jota d'Aragonese, Valse-Fantasy and in particular his greatest work: 5 acts grand opera Ruslan and
Lyudmila, which has no recitatives and beautiful tunes follow one
A DVD recording of 1995 production of "Ruslan and Lyudmila" by the
Mariinski Theatre is available from usual sources (EBay, Amazon,
RussianDVD.com etc.). This performance was conducted by Valeri Gergiev
with Anna Netrebko in thetitle role.
Dear Mr. Miller,
the great composers mostly have a very unique style, which is not
directly comparable with the elements of the style of others. But you can
find indeed some similarities. There are a lot of composers later than
Tchaikovsky, where you can find some aspects of similarity or further
development of issues in the personal style of Tchaikovsky, influenced
directly or indirectly by Tchaikovsky himself.
I’ld like to give you a (very subjective !) list of composers. You can
here their works and get your own impression.
In general melodic richness is a typical aspect of slavonic composers
of the romantic period. One reason are the spoken languages in slavonic
countries, which are closed together and which have similarities in
richness of variations, diminutives, change of accentuation and a keen
detailed grammar. Written music and spoken native language are related of
course. So let’s start with
Symphonies no 7, 8, 9. The 8thsymphony can be regarded as a reaction to
Tchaikovskys 5th. Cello concerto in b minor, chamber music, quartets, esp.
several “dumka” movements, Serenade of strings, Slavonic dances. Music of
Dvoøák is melodic rich and harmonic as of the music of Tchaikovsky. There
is also a deep connection with folk music in the background. At the end of
his life he wrote also orchestral programmatic symphonic pieces like
He was designed as a successor of Tchaikovsky by his own words. He
started with instrumentation and “sound” of Tchaikovsky and developed his
own colourful style of orchestration based on the tone richness of
Tchaikovsky. Rachmaninov wrote endless melodies (V. Gergiev) as
Tchaikovsky but his melodies are in a smaller range of notes. Here the
piano concertos No 1, 2, 3, and 2nd, 3rd symphony and the symphonic
dances, opera “Aleko”, the early phantasies “The rock” and “Prince
Rostislav”. The expressiveness is deep as Tchaikovsky’s, but has a
smaller range. He is less exalted and more reluctant / “aristocratic”. At
Rachmaninow you will find the same sound and melodies but not the struggle
and optimism, he is more pessimistic.
He took over from Tchaikovsky’s late symphonies the deepness of
expression, the freedom of creative musical structure and forms (resp. to
“Pathétique”). His symphonies are also very subjective and
individual. Examples: 5th, 6th, 9th symphony. In the well-known
“Adagietto” from his 5th symphony he took over a love theme of
Tchaikovsky’s “Pique Dame”. But the sound differs completely from
Tchaikovsky. The 9th symphony ends also with a very slow final movement as
“Pathétique”. In spirit – not in sounds - Mahler can be regarded as
a successor of the modern symphonic music.
Beside on Tchaikovsky he was the only composer who wrote absolute
symphonies and also programmatic orchestral pieces during his whole
musical life from begin to the end. Here the 1st symphony, violin
If you are interested to find the same psychological deepness
concerning human being, relationship, love like the operas of Tchaikovsky
after Pushkin, you can here the operas of Janáèek. The sound is completely
different, but the emotional and psychological deepness is similar.
Example: “Kat'ya Kabanova” – the same sujet like “The storm”, op.
post. 76 from Tchaikovsky.
He can be regarded as the symphonic successor of Tchaikovsky in Russia.
He also admitted as a modern composer to melodic richness. Mrawinsky
compared directly the 5th symphonies of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich as
similar in spirit, but created with a time difference of nearly 50 years.
The sound differs much from Tchaikovsky. Here the symphonies no 5, 7,
Sergej Prokofjev / Aram Chatchaturjan
They followed the ballet tradition of the ballet “founder” Tchaikovsky.
Here “Romeo and Juliet” from Prokofjev and “Spartakus” from
Chatchaturjan. Colourful orchestration, melodies at waltz’s at
In his operas he uses similar composition and orchestral effects and
techniques as Tchaikovsky in his last orchestral works and operas (Edward
Garden). Doubling of melodies in octaves at the high light of the dramatic
developments, etc. Here “Tosca”, “Madama Butterfly”, “Turandot”.
So – that’s just a small list of my personal recommendations. Enjoy the
discovering of similarities to Tchaikovsky, broaden your horizon as
Tchaikovsky himself did, when he was himself influenced by very different
composers and characters to create his own, unique style.
I really cant think of any other composer with similar attributes as
Tchaikovsky. However the world of classical music is rich and deep and
there are composers with comparable sweep and melodic beauty but each in
his own different way. Rachmaninoff wrote a few pieces reflecting
Tchaikovsky's mode...such as his Second and Third Piano Concerti as well
as his Second Symphony...but by and large he doesn't have the earlier
masters breadth and scope. Chopin would be a good choice in terms of
melodic beauty, passion and a high degree of craftmanship...Mahler one of
my favorites has has a good deal of what I like about Tchaikovsky and
more..I would start with his First, Fourth and Fifth symphony and see how
that strikes you...but there is no more emotionally driven music than that
of Mahler along with a good deal of melodic beauty and great technique...I
have no problem extolling him and love his Ten Symphonies and 50 songs...
Jason you have your foot in the door of classical music...there must be
a lot out there for you to feel comfortable with. Bach, Mozart and Beethoven is a good start to acquaint yourself....Check out the works and
Symphonies of Schubert, Schumann and Bruckner for example..
While we all have our preferences there is a lot in the field of
classical music to satisfy every taste. I cannot in such small space give
you a history of music still you may find certain works of other Russian
masters such as Rimsky Korsakoff's Capriccio Espanol and
Sheherazade, Stravinsky's early ballets, Firebird and
Petrushka, Shostakovich's Fifth and Tenth Symphonies to your taste...
Once you have explored some of the above I'd be interested in knowing
your reaction...Happy listening....
First of all I am just like you. I am a listener of classical music and
fan of Tchaikovsky's music. It is so high that it is even obsession. There
are many reasons for me to listen Tchaikovsky most of the time but one of
them is that I couldn't find any composer or music gives me the same
feelings as Tchaikovsky does.
In my point of view the most similar composer to him is Rachmaninov.
They are both Russian. So you can hear the Russian flavour as in the
Rachmaninov is considered to be the last champion of
romantic era so there are lots of romance and expression and even
melancholy in his compositions especially in his Piano concertos. And the
most important thing is that
Rachmaninov was heavily influenced by
Tchaikovsky. He had used some of his unique musical ideas and little
ornamentals and blended them with his own modernish style. That influence
makes him the number one. I don't recommend Rimsky-Korsakov or the other
Russians (The Five). They are so strict.
As for the other romantic era composers, the second similar one is Camille Saint-Saens. I haven't listened much of his music but once I
listened to his Aquarim and Swan -The Carnival of Animals; in melody and
romanticism they highly resemble of Tchaikovsky's music. Aquarium looks
very similar to Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (the use of glockenspiel in
both pieces adds the same mysticsm) and the Swan is highly melancholic. It
may just be a thought but
Saint-Saens was also homosexual. Maybe
homosexuality at composers gives birth to a more woman-like music which we
can cleary see in Tchaikovsky and Saint-Saens is more or less the same. He
didn't use much of his compositional style as Rachmaninov did but as for
the feeling, melancholy, fantasy and even sorrow they are very look alike.
Schumann may seem a good choice because he was also a depressive
type(and that reflects to the music directly) but he lacks a Russian
flavor. But in any case he was a romantic. Grieg's music is highly
appealing and they share the same cold air and the same charm (Nutcracker
and Peer Gynt for instance) in their music. But you may not find the same
sorrow and depression. Chopin might be choice for solo piano only.
Tchaikovsky's solo piano catalogue is overshadowed by his orchestral
output but they were both romantic in piano.
I don't recall any more names. For me there's nothing like him. All the
names I have given were sharing just little common parts, not whole. My
advice is to keep listening Tchaikovsky if you are really into him so
badly as I do:) But if you are new to classical music and you may want to
welcome new composers and styles which is a lot of fun.
They are important composers for Pyotr Ily'ich; Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Johann Strauss
(Junior), Wagner (in a way),
Adam, Berlioz, Delibes, Gounod, Glinka, Anton Rubinstein.
I recommend you to listen orchestral music(including concertos) of
them; Antonin Dvorak (after
1880's), Anatoly Liadov, Sergei Taneyev, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Anton Arensky, Iulii Konius (Jules Conus), Sergei Rachmaninov and
Wilhelm Furtwaengler. You shall find Pyotr Ily'ich's DNAs in them.