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Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka

Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka

The composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804-1857) was the earliest important musical figure of 19th-century musical nationalism in Russia—indeed, Russia's first musical personage of importance. He is known as the father of Russian music.

Mikhail Glinka was born on May 20, 1804, in Novospasskoe, a village in Smolensk Province. From the age of 13 he was raised in St. Petersburg. His training was in the upper-class traditions of the capital. He moved in the circles that passed as enlightened for the time, and he experienced the atmosphere of ferment and question that prevailed in Russia with Western exposure, military and social, after 1812. He was said to have been sympathetic toward the Decembrist uprisings of 1825, yet later times found him politically conservative.

A prodigy, Glinka studied music with visiting foreigners in St. Petersburg. Of them, John Field should be mentioned as a strong influence, although the close relationship reported between the two is doubtful. He also studied in Italy, and in Berlin at the age of 33 he studied theory and composition with Siegfried Dehn.

Glinka adopted the practice of the numerous Italians dominating music in St. Petersburg: using stories and tunes from Russian historical and folk sources. Thus, his first opera, A Life for the Czar, or Ivan Susanin (1836), told the story of a Russian peasant's sacrifice as he misled Polish troops marching against the Czar. Although willing to accept the occasional folk reference from visiting Italians, many St. Petersburg opera goers found Glinka's effort "music for coachmen." Others, however, approved, and among them was the Czar.

With A Life for the Czar, Glinka not only opened Russia's first significant musical chapter but became one of the important figures of European 19th-century romantic nationalism. This coincidence of Russia's first musical efflorescence with the romantic-national phase of Western musical history has left an indelible mark on Russian and Soviet musical thinking to this day.

In his second opera, Ruslan and Ludmilla (1842), Glinka's effort at a "national" style was more marked. The same effort is heard in his numerous songs, a number of which are settings of texts by Aleksandr Pushkin. Glinka ventured also into symphonic music with overtures, the popular Kamarinsky (a fantasy on two Russian folk songs), and music for what has latterly been hailed as the "first Russian symphony" (1834; finished in 1948 by Vissarion Shebalin). His devotion to folk idiom was not limited to the Russian; he treated Middle Eastern, Finnish, Polish, Italian, and Spanish tunes as well. Ruslan and Ludmilla's disappointing reception led Glinka to spend more and more time abroad.

Glinka's influence on all subsequent Russian musical development was profound, not just as romantic and nationalist but also as essentially conservative in means. He encouraged Aleksandr Dargomyzhsky and Mily Balakirev on the one hand, Anton Rubinstein and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky on the other. That he was not as distinctly "Russian" as was fondly held in earlier decades is no slur on his talent, which was great. He died in Berlin, on his way to confer further with Dehn, on Feb. 3, 1857.

Further Reading

The newest view of Glinka in English is in Mikhail O. Zetlin, The Five: The Evolution of the Russian School of Music, translated and edited by George Panim (1959). Chapters on Glinka appear in M. D. Calvocoressi and Gerald Abraham, Masters of Russian Music (1936) and Donald Brook, Six Great Russian Composers (1946). Paul Henry Lang, Music in Western Civilization (1941), attempts to place Glinka in some historical perspective.

Additional Sources

Brown, David, Mikhail Glinka: a biographical and critical study, New York: Da Capo Press, 1985, 1974.

Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich, Memoirs, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980, 1963.

Montagu-Nathan, M. (Montagu), Glinka, New York: AMS Press, 1976. □

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Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich

GLINKA, MIKHAIL IVANOVICH

(18041857), composer, regarded as founder of Russian art music, especially as creator of Russian national opera.

Mikhail Glinka, the musically gifted son of a landowner, gained much of his musical education during a journey to Europe (18301834). In Italy he became acquainted with the opera composers Vincenzo Bellini and Gaetano Donizetti, and in Berlin he studied music theory. After his return, Glinka channeled the spiritual effects of the trip into the composition of a work that went down in history as the first Russian national opera, "A Life for the Tsar" (1836). Three aspects of this opera were formative to operatic style in Russia: the national subject (here taken from the seventeenth century), the libretto in Russian, and the musical language, which combined the European basic techniques with Russian melodic patterns. The patriotic character of the subject fit extremely well into the conservative national attitudes of the 1830s under Tsar Nicholas I. In spite of Glinka's stylistic borrowings from European tradition, the Russian features of the music made way for a national art music apart form the dominant foreign models. Overnight, Glinka became famous and soon was admired as the father of Russian music. Whereas the "Life for the Tsar" marked the beginning of the historical opera in Russia, "Ruslan and Lyudmila" (1842) established the genre of the Russian fairy-tale opera. Thus, Glinka embodied the two strands of Russian opera that would flourish in the nineteenth century. Stylistically Glinka's Russian and Oriental elements exerted greatest influence on the following generations. Glinka became not only a creative point of reference for many Russian composers but also a national and cultural role model, and later a figure of cult worship with the reestablishment of Soviet patriotism under Josef Stalin.

See also: music; opera

bibliography

Brown, David. (1974). Mikhail Glinka: A Biographical and Critical Study. London: Oxford University Press.

Orlova, Aleksandra A. (1988). Glinka's Life in Music: A Chronicle. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Research Press.

Matthias Stadelmann

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Glinka, Mikhail (Ivanovich)

Glinka, Mikhail (Ivanovich) (b Novospasskoye, Smolensk, 1804; d Berlin, 1857). Russ. composer, regarded as founder of nat. sch. and the first Russ. composer to be accepted outside Russia. Son of wealthy landowner. Interest in mus. aroused c.1815 when he heard a Crusell cl. qt. During general education in St Petersburg from 1817 had 3 pf. lessons from John Field. Also studied vn. and harmony. Worked in Ministry of Communications 1824–8 but gave recitals as amateur singer. In 1828 began serious study of comp. with Zamboni. Went to Milan 1830 where homesickness led him to contemplate writing a truly nat. opera, then to Vienna and Berlin 1833, studying comp. with Siegfried Dehn. Returned to St Petersburg to compose opera A Life for the Tsar, successfully prod. 1836. Appointed Kapellmeister, Imperial Chapel 1837. His second opera Ruslan and Lyudmila was prod. 1842. In 1844 visited Paris, meeting Berlioz, travelling on to Sp. where the folk-dance rhythms fascinated him. Returned to Russ. 1847, but made several more foreign journeys. Works incl.:OPERAS: A Life for the Tsar (Ivan Susanin) (1834–6); Ruslan and Lyudmila (1837–42).ORCH.: sym. in B♭ (c.1824); Valse fantaisie (1839–56); Capriccio brillante (1845); Kamarinskaya (1848); Night in Madrid (1848).CHAMBER MUSIC: str. qt. No.1 (1824), No.2 (1830); sextet for pf. and strs. (1832); Trio pathétique, pf., cl., bn. (1832). Also pf. and vocal works.

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"Glinka, Mikhail (Ivanovich)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Glinka, Mikhail (Ivanovich)." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved April 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/glinka-mikhail-ivanovich

Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich

Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (mēkhəyēl´ ēvä´nəvĬch glēn´kä), 1804–57, first of the nationalist school of Russian composers. His two operas, A Life for the Czar (1836) and Russlan and Ludmilla (1842), marked the beginning of a characteristically Russian style of music. His best symphonic work was the incidental music to the play Prince Kholmsky.

See studies by D. Brown (1973), A. Orlova (1988), and A. Rosanov (1989).

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"Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 29 Apr. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved April 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/glinka-mikhail-ivanovich

Glinka, Mikhail

Glinka, Mikhail (1804–57) Russian composer, the first Russian composer to receive international acclaim. His two operas, A Life for the Czar (1836) and Russlan and Ludmila (1841), inspired the Russian Five. Later in life, Glinka resided in Italy and Spain, writing songs and orchestral music.

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