Publication Date

Spring 4-29-2024


School of Music


Music: Piano Performance


program music, Tchaikovsky, The Tempest, music composition, storytelling


Composition | Music | Musicology | Music Practice


Throughout history, music has been employed in storytelling. By presenting a story in musical terms, composers can bring stories to life, creating auditory atmospheres which connect the listener to the story in a deeper way. One medium composers have done this through is program music, a musical genre which seeks to tell a story through music in association with a descriptive title or short program, relying on the imagination of the listener instead of spoken word or visible action. One example is Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest, Op. 18, TH 44, an orchestral fantasia meant to convey Shakespeare’s The Tempest. This essay will explore the methods used to relate a story musically through an analysis of The Tempest, showing how it creates an auditory narrative of Shakespeare’s classic play.