Tchaikovsky and Beethoven comparison

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker, March

The famous “March” is a part of “The Nutcracker”, presented as the second piece in the first act. It was written by a Russian composer, Tcaikovsky Pyotr Ilych (1840-1893). It was written in 1891-1892, when the author was in his sixties. This composition is one of his last works.

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Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, I

Symphony No.5 in C minor is a part of the first act of the Opera 67. It was written in 1804 -1808 by Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770 – 1827). Writing this composition, the author was in his mid-thirties; his hearing was constantly getting worse.

To compare the two pieces, several aspects should be analyzed, which include instrumentation, form, harmony, tempo, meter, texture, style period, meaning, and orientation.

Instrumentation: The Nutcracker is performed by a range of instruments, namely woodwinds, flutes, triangle, violins, snare drums. The Beethoven’s Symphony uses such instruments as Flutes, oboes, clarinets, trumpets, timpani, piccolo, bassoons, contrabassoon, and trombones.

Form: the Nutcracker consists of two acts, and the March is the second composition in the first act. This piece lasts around 7 minutes. The Symphony No. 5 lasts nearly 30 minutes. The work is presented in four movements. The first one has a form of sonata Form A :|| B A’; the second movement is presented by the theme and variations T,V1,V2, V3,V4,V5.

Harmony: in Nutcracker the harmony is mainly tonic, sometimes changed by subdominant; the Symphony has tonic and sometimes dominant harmony.

Tempo: the Nutcracker is presented in tempo allegro; the Symphony has a comparatively complicated structure and therefore the tempo is changeable. The first movement is in tempo allegro; the second movement has the andante tempo, which is later switched back to tempo allegro and at the end changed to tempo accelerando

Meter: the both compositions use duple vs. triple meters.

Texture: in Nutcracker the loud parts are supported by soft instrumentation; in Symphony the melody is changed rapidly from soft to very loud and back.

Style period: While the Nutcracker was written during the Romantic period, the Beethoven’s Symphony was composed during the Heroic period.

The meaning of the Nutcracker is absolute. The meaning of the Beethoven’s Symphony is rather programmatic.

The orientation of the Nutcracker is rather secular, while the Symphony has a sacred orientation.

In my opinion, the both melodies have some strengths and weaknesses. Concerning the Nutcracker, it is a very harmonic composition, which gives a general impression of good mood and some importance. I liked the party of violins which made the melody smooth and supported the main instrumentation. However, the ending did not impress me much. In my opinion, it would be better to end a march with some kind of slow and loud – textured rising notes than with chords of tempo allegro. This would make the ending more distinctive and exuberant.

The Beethoven’s Symphony is a very complicated composition which appeals to me very much. I like the rapid change of harmony and texture, which is very expressive. The instrumentation is perfect; in addition, the composer uses the loud and soft parties to contrast, which is a very successful method. I think that this work is a real masterpiece of Beethoven.

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