The Famous Five – the music of Mily Balakirev

Vladimir Stasov

Mily Balakirev was an unfortunate composer. Having – with the help of the critic, Stasov – brought together and supported the prodigiously gifted group of ‘amateur’ composers who became known as The Mighty Handful or The Five; and having – almost single handedly – forged from the music of Glinka and others the lingua franca of Russian nationalism; it seems that he had precious little time left to complete his own compositions. The result? Instead (in 1860) of astonishing the world with his brilliance and originality, by the 1890s when the works had been eventually completed and performed he found himself relegated to the second rank of composers; seen as a pale and rather outmoded imitator of Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin et al.

Listening:
Balakirev:
Tamara
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra – Tamara
[Spotify search terms: glinka kamarinskaya suisse]

Score
Balakirev: Tamara

Course materials:
Balakirev short biography

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