saw the rise of a number of outstanding musicians, including the
Rubinstein brothers. In 1859 they founded the Russian Musical
Society with the main goal of establishing musical education in the
country. Thanks to their efforts, the St. Petersburg Conservatory
came into existence in 1862, and the Moscow Conservatory, in 1866.
Anton Rubinstein was one of the best pianists of the
nineteenth century. He
also went down in history as a composer and the author of the opera
In the 1850s a group of prominent Russian composers turned to the
composition of music that sought to reflect the Russian national
character. The leading members of this group were Balakirev,
Mussorgsky, Cui, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin. The group enriched
the world music repertoire with many outstanding works.
Among them are the historical operas Boris Godunov and
Khovanshchina by Mussorgsky, Prince Igor by Borodin and
The Maid of Pskov
by Rimsky-Korsakov; Rimsky-Korsakovís fairy tale operas including
The Snow Maiden, Sadko, and The Golden Cockerel;
his splendid orchestral piece Scheherazade; and Mussorgskyís
Pictures from an Exhibition.
The members of
the Balakirev-led movement strove to make music more democratic and
understandable to ordinary people by drawing extensively on themes
from Russian folk music.
In the second
half of the 19th century, the best-known Russian composer, Pyotr
Tchaikovsky, began his creative activity, producing symphonic, opera
and ballet music. The most important of his works include the
ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The
Nutcracker, the operas Eugene Onegin, The Queen of
Spades and Iolanta, Symphonies Nos. 4, 5 and 6, the
orchestral overtures Romeo and Juliet and Francesca da
Rimini, concertos for the piano and orchestra and violin and
orchestra, the lyrical piano suite The Seasons, and songs.
During his lifetime, Tchaikovsky already was acknowledged as one of
the world's premier composers.
beginning of the 20th century Rakhmaninov, Scriabin and Stravinsky
acquired popularity as composers. Rakhmaninovís works include three
symphonies, four piano concertos, and other orchestral works such as
the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. His opera Aleko,
All-Night Vigil and songs are very popular with modern
Skriabin injected elements of mysticism and literary symbolism in
his works for piano and orchestra. His
most frequently performed works are his orchestral Poem of
Ecstasy, Third Symphony, Divine Poem, A Poem of
Fire/Prometheus, and piano sonatas.
Stravinsky, a student of Rimsky-Korsakov, left Russia in 1914. He
made forays into a number of new musical styles, from Dodecaphony to
Neo-classicism. But Russian folk themes were a constant source of
inspiration and remain the most original part of his legacy. It
includes the ballets The Firebird, Petroushka, and
The Rite of Spring, as well as the opera Mavra.