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Balakirev, Mily Alexeyevich
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Balakirev, Mily Alexeyevich

(Born; Nizhny-Novgorod, 2 Jan 1837; Died; St Petersburg, 29 May 1910). Russian composer. At the Alexandrovsky Institute he studied with the German Karl Eisrich, who introduced him to the music of Chopin and Glinka and to the wealthy music patron and Beethoven enthusiast Ulībīshev, who in turn introduced him (1855) to Glinka and the musical life of St Petersburg where he became known as a pianist and teacher. During an illness in 1858 he came under the care of Dimitry Stasov (brother of the critic) and met the young officer and amateur composer Musorgsky; both Musorgsky and another composing officer, Cui, soon accepted him as their mentor.Though Balakirev produced the Overture on Three Russian Themes, several songs (notably Selim's Song), Song of the Golden Fish and Georgian Song) and incidental music for King Lear around this time (1858-61), he completed few big works, spending much time on his disciples (now including Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin) and on the new Free School of Music. From 1862 he began collecting folktunes in the Caucasus, some of which he used in the Second Overture on Russian Themes (1864) and the Symphony in C, meanwhile editing and conducting Glinka's works. His fiery advocacy of musical nationalism gained him a prominent position in the Russian Musical Society by 1867, but his tactless, despotic character also gained him enemies, eventually straining relations within his own group. After completing the oriental fantasy for piano Islamey (1869) he withdrew from music, reappearing in the 1880s as director of the Imperial Court Chapel, then resuming composition during his reclusive retirement (from 1895).Balakirev's importance in Russian orchestral music and lyrical song in the second half of the 19th century was equally as composer and leader: he expanded Glinka's orientalism, bright orchestral transparency and incessant variation technique and transmitted this idiom to Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Musorgsky and even Tchaikovsky, partly by example and partly by direct interference in their compositions.Dramatic musicKing Lear, incidental music (1861)Orchestral musicSym. no.1, C (1897); Sym. no.2, d (1908); Tamara, sym. poem (1882); 2 ovs. on Russian themes (1858,1864); 2 pf concs., inc. Vocal musicchoral anthems; hymns; cantata; over 40 songsPiano music2 sonatas (1856, 1905); Islamey, oriental fantasy (1869); 7 mazurkas; 7 waltzes; Circa; 30 other solo pieces (scherzos, nocturnes etc); duets(c)Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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