Alexandre Borodine


Borodin was born in Saint Petersburg, the illegitimate son of a Georgian Prince, Luka Semyonovich Gedeanishvili, who had him registered instead as the son of one of his serfs, Porfiry Borodin. As a boy he received a good education, including piano lessons, but he was eventually to earn a doctorate in medicine at the Medico–Surgical Academy, the later home to Ivan Pavlov, and to pursue a career in chemistry (just as his comrade César Cui would do in the field of military fortifications). As a result of his work in chemistry and difficulties in his home-life, Borodin was not as prolific in writing music as many of his contemporaries were -- hence his own description of himself as a Sunday composer. He died during a festive ball, where he was participating with much vigor; he suddenly collapsed from heart failure. He was interred in Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Borodin's fame outside the Russian Empire was made possible during his lifetime by Franz Liszt, who arranged a performance of the first symphony in Germany in 1880, and by Comtesse de Mercy-Argenteau in Belgium and France. His music is noted for its strong lyricism and rich harmonies. Along with some influences from Western composers, as a member of the The Five his music exudes also an undeniably Russian flavor. His passionate music and unusual harmonies proved to have a lasting influence on the younger French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel (in homage, the...

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