Date of Award

Spring 4-26-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History and American Studies

Department Chair or Program Director

Claudine Ferrell

First Advisor

Steven Harris

Major or Concentration



Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is arguably Russia's most famous composer. Although his music is widespread, his immediate impact on Russian music in the 19th century is often overlooked or unknown by audiences. This paper examines what compositional and musical ideas Tchaikovsky used in his pieces and how he expressed them through his letters. Because of the relationships he had with his correspondents, Tchaikovsky had the means to develop and learn his unique compositional style. The most significant correspondents were his patroness Nadezhda von Meck, his brother Modest, and fellow composer Mily Balakirev. They enabled him to express and develop his musical beliefs. By utilizing these beliefs in his compositions, Tchaikovsky redefined what Russian music sounded like. This paper looks at these beliefs, applies them to his pieces, and discusses how he wrote about his ideas in his letters. Then, it discusses how these beliefs were influential on Russian composers who emerged following his death.