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Tchaikovsky facsimile?

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?

Jason Miller

Hello Jason.

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 contemporaries.

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 another.

A DVD recording of 1995 production of "Ruslan and Lyudmila" by the Mariinski Theatre is available from usual sources (EBay, Amazon, etc.). This performance was conducted by Valeri Gergiev with Anna Netrebko in thetitle role.

Alexander Geidelberg

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

Antonín Dvoøák

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 Tchaikovsky.

Sergej Rachmaninow

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.

Gustav Mahler

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.

Jean Sibelius

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 concerto, “Finlandia”.

Leoš Janáèek

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.

Dmitri Shostakovich

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, 12.

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 Chatchaturjan.

Giacomo Puccini

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.

Ruediger Herpich

Hi Jason,

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....

Al Gasparo

Hello Jason,

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 Tchaikovsky's music. 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.

Gezgin Paksoy


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.

Kamomeno Iwao

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This page was last updated on 05 November 2013