The music of many Russian composers is well known around the world, yet there are only a few whose names have gained the deserved recognition. Their career paths have not been short of hardships, and their work often received acceptance only years after their death. Here is a list of musical innovators whose work changed the history of music.
Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857)
Glinka had dedicated his whole life to music. He started learning at a young age and moved to St Petersburg to pursue that career. Glinka was personally acquainted with Russian writers of the age, including Pushkin, writing music to the words of their poetry. His work was a large contribution to Russian culture. He wrote operas on themes from Russian literature, such as Ivan Susanin (1836) and Ruslan and Ludmila (1842). Due to strong criticism at the end of his career, he was forced to leave Russia and came back only several years later.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Tchaikovsky remains a leading figure in Russian classical music decades after his death. Over the course of his musical career, he has composed scores of music, including pieces for ballet and opera. He is especially recognised for his contribution to Russian ballet, as he composed the scores for Swan Lake (1876), The Nutcracker (1892) and Sleeping Beauty (1889). Despite his successful career, Tchaikovsky’s life path was not so stable. He was often short of money, was not happy in his personal life, and the circumstances of his death remain mysterious even today.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
Rimsky-Korsakov was one of the leading members of The Five, a group of composers who worked to create nationalistic, uniquely Russian music. He drew a lot of inspiration from folklore and Russian literature. Among his famous works is the opera Sadko (1896), based on a famous Russian epic, and the symphony suite Scheherazade (1888). He was a prominent teacher of the St Petersburg Conservatory, which now holds his name. He led classes, wrote unique teaching materials, and during the Revolution of 1905 he supported the protesting students. Over 200 musicians, including composers, conductors and musicologists, graduated under his guidance and leadership.
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)
Even though Mussorgsky’s talent for music was discovered at a young age, under the pressure of his family he started his career as an army official. During his service, he met Alexander Borodin, also a composer and member of The Five group. Mussorgsky joined their group and devoted his career to music. His work was also inspired by Russian folklore and history. For example, the opera Boris Godunov (1870) recited the life of one of Russia’s tsars and was based on the play by Alexander Pushkin. His other major work, Khovanshchina (1880), was completed just before the composer died. Rimsky-Korsakov then revised and scored the piece, using the composer’s notes.
Alexander Scriabin (1871-1915)
Coming from a musical family, Scriabin was prone to playing the piano from a young age. He completed a course in piano at the Moscow Conservatory, where he later worked as a professor. At the same time, he was avidly composing music, making contacts in artistic circles and eventually came to the idea of synthesising music with other genres of art. He also created a table that linked colours with tones and scales. Among his major works is the symphony Prometheus: The Poem of Fire (1910), part of which is performed using a chromola, a colour organ invented by Scriabin.
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Rachmaninoff’s talent was evident from a young age. Even in the early stages of his career, he composed impressive works, such as his First Piano Concerto (1891), completed as a student. He suffered from depression after his First Symphony (1896) was not welcomed by critics, entering a phase in his life when he didn’t compose at all. The Second Piano Concerto (1901), however, allowed Rachmaninoff to make a return to music. He also worked as a conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre and was offered work overseas. Soon after the revolution, he left Russia and permanently moved to the United States. Rachmaninoff was a man long disowned by his own country, but his reputation now restored is that of a prominent composer and musician.
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
Raised by two musician parents, Stravinsky was destined for a musical future, but initially chose not to follow his destiny. Instead, he enrolled in law courses; however, at university he became friends with the son of Rimsky-Korsakov and eventually became a pupil of the famed composer. His first big works were produced in collaboration with Sergei Diaghilev, patron of the Russian ballet. He composed the score for the ballets Firebird (1910) and Petrouchka (1911) that brought him recognition in Russia and overseas. He eventually fled from Russia to Europe, where his work was continuously inspired by Russian folklore. He later moved to the US where he completed a major orchestral work, Symphony in C (1940).
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
One of the major composers of the 20th century, Prokofiev is known for his ambitious, innovative work. He worked closely with Sergei Diaghilev to compose music for ballets. He was forced to emigrate to the US after the revolution, continuing his career, but largely depending on work as a concert pianist. He was finally granted the opportunity to return to the Soviet Union and was commissioned to write new music. Among the pieces composed during that time are the ballet Romeo and Juliet (1935) and the soundtrack score for the 1938 Eisenstein film Alexander Nevsky.
Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975)
During the early stages of his career, despite being trained as a composer, Shostakovich worked mostly as a pianist. His early works didn’t bring him eminent success and weren’t always welcome by critics. True fame came to Shostakovich with his 7th Symphony. The composer remained in Leningrad during the start of the Siege. This was also the time when he began composing his famous Leningrad Symphony (1942). He completed it after his family was evacuated from the besieged city. It was performed by the Leningrad Philarmonic and transmitted all around by loudspeakers while the city was being occupied by German troops. After the war, he returned to teaching, but in Moscow, and also participated in composing soundtracks for a number of Soviet movies.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.