Russian Romantic Music and Tchaikovsky

Russian Romantic Music and Tchaikovsky Russian music bears its own styles and emotions, free from the outside influence of other European countries during the Romantic period. Politics play an indirect role in the development of Russian music, isolating the country both politically and musically. Until the Decembrist revolt in 1825, Russia was under the unrelenting rule of czars. Russia retained the ways of the old — its caste system, its severity of censorship — while the rest of Europe had already shed its Middle Age characteristics. Since the revolt, it had become fashionable for the educated public to promote social reform. Political activity in Russia was a dangerous game, likely to lead to death or exile. Because of this, Russians turned to their national roots, finding solace in rich folk culture and explorations in art, literature, and music. A new concern for national differences in language and the arts provoked a new age of nationalism. For Russia, music was seen as a particularly strong way of expressing the soul of a people. In Russia, the leader of the nationalist revival was Mikhail Glinka. His followers Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, Csar Cui, Borodin, and Mussorgsky became known as The Five. These composers were an unusual crowd of dedicated drinkers, but despite that, they were also exquisitely talented amateur composers. Borodin worked as a chemist; Csar Cui was a military engineer; and Modest Mussorgsky was a civil servant whom the rest of the group regarded with contempt. The most successful of The Five was Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, who was an accomplished and skillful orchestrator. His operas, based on Russian folk songs, were very popular in their time, while his attractive orchestral works such as Sheherazade and the famous Spanish Capriccio are still often heard today. The leader of the group was Mily Balakirev, whose judgement was feared by everybody in the group. Bal…

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