Russia has a long history of classical music innovation.
In XVIII century, during the reign of Empresses Elisabeth and Catherine, the Russian imperial court attracted many prominent musicians of the time. They brought here their traditions of opera and classical music in general, to inspire future generations of Russian composers.
The first important Russian composer was Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857), who composed early Russian operas Ivan Susanin and Ruslan and Lyudmila.
Another prominent Russian composer was Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, best known for ballets like Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker. He remains the best known outside Russia, and his fame as the country's most famous composer is unquestioned.
Late XIX and early XX century saw the third wave of Russian classics: Stravinsky, Scriabin, Sergei Prokofiev and Shostakovich. They were experimental in style and musical language.
In the late XIX-early XX centuries, romances (in exotic Russian, Caucasian, Gypsy and Italian styles) became very popular. The greatest and most popular singers of romances usually sang in operas at the same time. The most popular was Fyodor Shalyapin. Singers usually composed music and wrote the lyrics, such as Alexander Vertinsky, Konstantin Sokolsky, Pyotr Leshchenko.