Long before things like YouTube, FL Studio and synthesizers existed aspiring musicians found ways to not only gain worldwide recognition as successful composers, but also to change the course of history, thus partially paving out the world we know today.
Some of the biggest names in Classicism and Romanticism are, in fact, the names of Slavic composers from the ranks of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. Who are they, where did they come from and what did they do? Keep reading to find out.
Frédéric Chopin (Polish)
Chopin is without a single doubt one of the most well-known names in classical music. This Polish composer’s immense contribution to popularizing Polish folk music and dances like the polka and mazurka is just one of the reasons why he’s so praised among Slavs. Albeit writing mainly solos for piano, his compositions were anything but mediocre. Apart from lively waltzes, Chopin also composed darker pieces, such as the famous Funeral March. Furthermore, he remains in history as the inventor of the instrumental ballade. Just try to picture how today’s world would have looked (and sounded) like without it!
Sergei Prokofiev (Russian)
Early Soviet times weren’t exactly peachy for everyone, but the Russian conductor and composer Sergei Prokofiev made sure Soviet families would find entertainment in his works of art. With a long list of groundbreaking compositions, such as the whopping number of 7 completed operas and the iconic ballet Romeo And Juliet, he is often dubbed as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century who never limited himself to one musical genre or instrument ensemble.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian)
Speaking of Russian composers, who can forget Tchaikovsky and his signature masterpiece, the ballet Swan Lake? The Romanticism of the 1800s already had Schubert’s dramatic movements, but that didn’t stop Tchaikovsky from spanning his reach way beyond the borders of Russia as his symphonies, ballets, operas and concertos became wildly famous all over the globe. Ballet companies and opera troupes aren’t the only ones having a star-studded carrier thanks to his works – let’s not forget that Natalie Portman never would have won her one and only Academy Award for her role in Black Swan, had it not been for Tchaikovsky’s hard work.
Eugen Suchoň (Slovak)
Another glorious Slavic composer from the 20th century is Eugen Suchoň, the Slovak musician whose dynamic operas, symphonies and chamber works not only aided future musicians of Slavic origin in breaking through the barriers of the music industry, but also helped countless students pursue their musical and theatrical dreams. Back in the 1900s Suchoň published an impressive list of varied compositions and taught musical theory and practice at Bratislava University over the course of two decades.
Carl Czerny (Czech)
Despite often being labeled as an Austrian composer, the legendary Carl Czerny was born to Czech parents. The child prodigy who famously started playing the piano at the fragile age of 3, became a teacher at the age of 15. His most prominent student was Franz Liszt himself. Throughout his long life Czerny wrote over a thousand (!) pieces and he is often considered as the inventor of the modern piano fingering technique, which became the basis for the following generations of piano players. And on top of everything else he composed so many extensive and varied religious pieces that some of the most famous hymns and masses are based on his own take on Catholic Christian music.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (Russian)
The appraised Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov left a rich and diverse legacy filled with fairytale motifs and nationalistic pieces. Not only is he the author whose works are still the tools for musicians-in-learning, but he’s also the one responsible for splendid works, such as the symphonic suite Scheherazade, the celebrated Russian Easter Festival Overture and the notorious opera Prince Igor (which he completed after Alexander Borodin’s death prevented Borodin from finishing it himself).
Antonín Leopold Dvořák (Czech)
If you ask chamber musicians about the most famous classical piece in their repertoire, they’ll surely say it’s the String Quartet in F major, a.k.a. the American String Quartet written by the Czech composer Dvořák, which he composed while serving as the director of the National Conservatory of Music in America in the late 1880s. That alone speaks eloquently for the mark he left in history. On top of that his operas, librettos and choral works, which achieved worldwide fame, implemented various Czech folklore motifs that sparked global interest. They made such an impact that Dvořák is often credited as the composer whose recreations of Czech nationalism are the most versatile and fullest ones anyone has ever heard and seen up to present day.