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Cui, César

Cui, César [ Kyui, Tsezar Antonovich] (b Vilna (now Vilnius), 1835; d Petrograd, 1918). Russ. composer. Son of Fr. army officer. Studied mus. with Moniuszko in 1850 but concentrated on military engineering at univ., becoming Lieut.-Gen. of engineers and authority on fortifications (prof. of engineering, St Petersburg Acad. of Military Engineering from 1878). On meeting Balakirev in 1856, found he shared his nationalist mus. ideals and with him joined group known as ‘the Five’ or the ‘Mighty Handful’ (the others were Borodin, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov). Although a prolific composer, his biggest contribution to the cause of the Five was through his excellent and witty (and sometimes caustic) writings. Comp. ov. for Dargomyzhsky's The Stone Guest and made a version of Mussorgsky's incomplete Sorochintsy Fair (prod. Petrograd, 1917). Prin. comps.: 15 operas (incl. William Ratcliffe, 1961–8), 2 scherzos for orch., 3 str. qts., vn. sonata, choral mus., many songs, and pf. pieces.

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Cui, César Antonovich

César Antonovich Cui (tsāzär´ äntô´nôvĬch küē´), 1835–1918, Russian composer and critic, a military engineer by profession. As a music critic in St. Petersburg and Paris, he championed the group of nationalist Russian composers known as The Five, consisting of Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev, Mussorgsky, Borodin, and himself. Of these, he was the least distinctive composer. He was largely self-taught, and his best works are songs and short salon pieces, which avoid the technical deficiencies of his operas and orchestral music.

See V. I. Seroff, The Mighty Five (1948); M. O. Zetlin, The Five (tr. 1959).

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