Balakirev, Mily (Alexeyevich)

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Balakirev, Mily (Alexeyevich) (b Nizhny-Novgorod, 1837 (old style 1836); d St Petersburg, 1910). Russ. composer who made major contribution to development of nationalist school. Spent his formative years in the country home of Oulibichev, biographer of Mozart, where he studied in the library and had practical instruction with private orch. At 18 went to St Petersburg, where Glinka, impressed by his nationalist ideals, encouraged him to continue his own work. From 1861 Balakirev became centre of a group of nationalistically inclined composers known as ‘the Five’ (the others being Cui, Borodin, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov). In 1862 founded Free Sch. of Mus. At its sym. concerts Balakirev introduced many of the new works by his colleagues of ‘the Five’ and later those by Lyadov and Glazunov. Nervous breakdown led to his retirement from music 1871–6, during which period he worked as a railway official. From 1883 was mus. dir. to the Russ. court. Himself a fine pianist, his Islamey, like his other pf. works, is a brilliant virtuoso showpiece. Prin. works:ORCH.: syms. No.1 in C (1893–7), No.2 in D minor (1900–08); pf. concs. No.1 in F♯ minor (1855), No.2 in E♭ (1861, completed 1911 by Lyapunov); Overture on Spanish Themes (1857, rev. 1886), Overture on 3 Russian Themes (1863–4, rev. 1884), Overture on Czech Themes (1867, rev. 1905); sym.-poem Tamara (1867–82).PIANO: Oriental fantasy Islamey (1869, rev. 1902), 6 mazurkas, 3 scherzos, 3 nocturnes, 4 waltzes, Spanish Serenade.

Also many songs.