Mili Alexeivich Balakirev - Encyclopedia


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MILI ALEXEIVICH BALAKIREV (1836-), Russian musical composer, was born at Nijni-Novgorod on the 31st of December 1836. He had the advantage as a boy of living with Oulibichev, author of a Life of Mozart, who had a private band, and from whom Balakirev obtained a valuable education in music. At eighteen, after a university course in mathematics, he went to St Petersburg, full of national ardour, and there made the acquaintance of Glinka. Round him gathered Cesar Cui (b. 1835), and others, and in 1862 the Free School of Music was established, by which, and by Balakirev's personal zeal, the modern school of Russian music was largely stimulated. In 1869 Balakirev was appointed director of the imperial chapel and conductor of the Imperial Musical Society. His influence as a conductor, and as an organizer of Russian music, give him the place of a founder of a new movement, apart even from his own compositions, which though few in number are remarkable in themselves. His works consist largely of songs and collections of folk-songs, but include a symphony (first played in England in 1901), two symphonic poems ("Russia" and "Tamara"), and four overtures, besides pianoforte pieces. His orchestral works are of the "programme-music" order, but all are brilliant examples of the highly coloured, elaborate style characteristic of modern Russian composers, and developed by Balakirev's disciples, such as Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov.

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