Recommend Tchaikovsky like composers
June 9, 2010 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I really, really like Tchaikovsky's symphonies. What other composers would I like?

I'm looking to broaden my classical horizons beyond solely Tchaikovsky. What other symphonic music has the same "vulgar and lacking in elevated thought" (to cheekily quote Wikipedia) power and appeal?
posted by wrok to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Saint-Saens piano concertos

Dvorak's "New World" Symphony (#9)

Manuel de Falla's The Three-Cornered Hat
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:24 AM on June 9, 2010

Dvorak is not vulgar.

Try Franck's or some of Sibelius, maybe Schumann.
posted by Gyan at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2010

Best answer: Tchaikovsky is often a first favorite among classical composers. I was told a long time ago that one progresses from Tchaikovsky to Beethoven to Mozart to Bach. (I got stuck on Mozart myself.)

You may find this link of interest.
posted by bearwife at 8:46 AM on June 9, 2010

Best answer: If you like the sweeping romanticism, Rachmaninoff's piano music (concertos, Variations on a Theme by Paganini) should do the trick quite nicely. He was well aware that people thought he was cheesy; on the other hand, he also created some stunningly beautiful sacred works based on traditional Orthodox melodies.
posted by Madamina at 8:47 AM on June 9, 2010

Best answer: Off the top of my head, here are some suggestions for composers vaguely similar to Tchaikovsky and their most accessible and powerful pieces. (These get less and less similar as you go down the list.)
  • Rimsky-Korsakov, particularly Scheherezade
  • Franck, particularly the Symphony in D (his only one)
  • Holst, particularly The Planets
  • Respighi, particularly The Pines of Rome
  • Richard Strauss, particularly Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks
  • Prokofiev, particularly the "Lieutenant Kije" Suite
  • Sibelius, particularly Symphony No. 2
And seconding the suggestion of Dvorak's Symphony No. 9. I'd probably slot it between Franck and Holst in the above list.

And good on you for looking to expand your classical horizons; there's a lot of wonderful stuff out there. To get you started, here are ten free symphonies from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, one of the world's best.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:48 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I think that Wikipedia comment is trying to say more about the Romantic era critics' biases than anything substantial about Tchaikovsky. Maybe they're trying to say it's more Romantic than Formal?

Anyhow, It seems like your next logical starting place might be other big Russian composers who wrote symphonies, like Rachmaninov, Mussorsky, or Rimsky-Korsakov.

From there you can branch out - not knowing your tastes from the small sample size I am hesitant to recommend more modern composers, some of whose works might have more abstract or serial elements -- which some people hate with a fiery hot hatred. But if you have some time to browse, you might also listen to samples on the web of Prokofiev or (earlier) Stravinsky, maybe Shostakovitch, and see if you like anything by those composers. Have fun!
posted by aught at 8:50 AM on June 9, 2010

Dvorak is not vulgar.

It's an honest recommendation to the OP. I think someone who likes Tchaikovsky would like the "New World" Symphony. Does everything have to turn into a debate?
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:58 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I know I'm abusing the context of the Tchaikovsky quote, I just found it funny. Thanks for the recommendations so far. Further data points: love Holst's The Planets, hate harpsichords (just want to head that off at the pass).

Any specific work recommendations (not already mentioned) among the big Russian composers (since they're a pretty logical next step, and a pretty big group)?
posted by wrok at 9:00 AM on June 9, 2010

Best answer: I recommend you give a listen to Rachmaninov's second symphony
posted by dabug at 9:10 AM on June 9, 2010

Best answer: One thing which I've always loved, which I sense you might enjoy as well, is music that really brings you in to a story or feeling. Symphonic tone poems or operatic overtures might have specific themes, as might some of the pieces from Fantasia I/II, but there are many others. The Heavy Classix albums focus on loud and bombastic pieces, but part of their appeal comes from being really captivating and stirring the imagination.

Try Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. You're probably familiar with "Night On Bald Mountain," and you may have heard "The Great Gate of Kiev," (with or without the preceding "Baba Yaga/Hut on Chicken Legs") which is the last movement of PaaE, but the whole thing is worth checking out.

Shostakovich: try Symphony no. 5. The last movement is awesome.

Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique (earlier and not Russian) also falls into this category.
posted by Madamina at 9:13 AM on June 9, 2010

Rach #2 is a great work.

As far as the sort of "fluffier" (or lacking in elevated thought) romantic composers - Mendelssohn, Brahms, Berlioz, Vaughn Williams, Milhaud, Prokofiev, Schumann, Maria Von Weber, Saint Saens, Scriabin, Grieg. Not to jump in on the Dvorak debate, but I can't really think of a more vulgar composer from the time. The New World (even though it gets bonus points for being written in Iowa) sounds so like the work of an overly earnest lovestruck teenage music student.

As far as the Russian composers - definitely Shostakovich. It's the opposite of vulgar and lacking in elevated thought, really, but it's insanely badass. All the symphonies and string quartets are golden. My personal favorite is a piece called the Prelude and Scherzo, for eight strings.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:19 AM on June 9, 2010

For vulgarity, almost anything by Zoltan Kodaly. Even his sonata for unaccompanied cello is loud and raucous. Plus, "Zoltan."
posted by flechsig at 11:33 AM on June 9, 2010

The Tchaikovsky symphonies are terrific, and the last three are especially incredible. There have been some terrific recommendations up-thread. Here are a few more:

• Saint-Saëns: Symphony #3 "Organ"
• I want to nth Rimsky-Korsakov. In addition to Scheherazade, check out Capriccio Espagnol and Russian Easter Overture.
• As mentioned above, Prokofiev's Lt. Kije is great. Also check out his symphonies, as well as any of his suites from his Romeo and Juliet ballet. (FWIW, Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet is also pretty great).
• You might like early Hindemith (NOT middle or late Hindemith), particularly Mathis der Maler.
• I don't think anyone has mentioned Mahler. All of his symphonies are sweeping and powerful. Symphonies #1, #5, and #10 are more famous.
• Possibly Stravinsky's Firebird. He's later than Tchaikovsky and The Five, but his early work reflects (in some ways) his studies with Rimsky-Korsakov.

These are not all Russian composers—Saint-Saëns is French, and Hindemith and Mahler are German. Enjoy!
posted by sleepinglion at 11:40 AM on June 9, 2010

Vltava - by Smetana.
posted by essexjan at 11:59 AM on June 9, 2010

Aram Khachaturian could be considered vulgar: you may well already know his Sabre Dance; the Adagio from Spartacus; and the Masquerade Suite's Waltz. See also his violin & piano concertos, & his bombastic symphonies, etc.
posted by misteraitch at 12:04 PM on June 9, 2010

Shostakovich 5
posted by Fleebnork at 12:24 PM on June 9, 2010

Which I seem to have missed several other people already posted. Sigh.
posted by Fleebnork at 12:24 PM on June 9, 2010

Prokofiev's 5th Symphony is all sorts of awesome.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:04 PM on June 9, 2010

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