The compositions created during the Late Romantic era played a pivotal role in the development of classical music; it was during this period of time that composers began to expand their usage of harmony, incorporate more colourful and emotional passages into their orchestral pieces, and experiment with different types of instruments. The two great ‘stars’ of this era were undoubtedly Tchaikovsky and Dvorak – composers whom most people, including Tunde Folawiyo, are bound to have heard of.
Tchaikovsky was born in Russia in 1840; demonstrating a musical precociousness from a very young age, he took up the piano when he was four years old, and began to improvise and compose music soon after this. When he turned 22, he enrolled in the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and was taught by Nikolai Zaremba. The westernised, formal style of teaching which he received here – particularly his introduction to the music of Mozart – had an enormous influence on the compositions he created later on in his life; Tchaikovsky became known for his ability to fuse traditional Russian musical practices with western styles. This approach was not well-received by his peers initially, but gradually, his unique style was accepted and praised.
During the early 1870s, he composed some of his greatest pieces, including the First Piano Concerto and Swan Lake. However, it wasn’t until 1880 that he created what is arguably his most famous work, the 1812 Overture. This was the composition which put him on the map; over the course of the next decade, he continued to compose and conduct many orchestral works, including The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and lastly, Pathetique.
Dvorak was raised in the Czech Republic in 1841. He received violin lessons as a young child, and was eventually enrolled in the Prague Organ School. After completing his studies, he began to work as a professional organist, choosing to write music in his spare time. As a classical music fan, Tunde Folawiyo might know that, like Tchaikovsky, Dvorak’s compositions were greatly influenced by Mozart; his admiration of this composer’s work is particularly evident in his first great piece, Symphony no.1, which he created when he was just 24 years old.
For many years afterwards, Dvorak mistakenly believed that the score for this work had been burned in a fire; however, the sheet music was simply misplaced and was discovered many years later. However, the loss of this piece actually spurred on Dvorak’s musical development, causing him to reassess his creative direction. He went on to experiment with the fusion of classical forms with Czech folklore, and composed some hugely popular works, including the Slavonic Dances, and the revised version of the King and the Charcoal Burner; works which are likely to be familiar to fans of classical music, like Tunde Folawiyo.