Mikhail Glinka

Russian composer (Novospasskoye, 1804 – Berlin, 1857)

Prefiguring The Five, Glinka was the founder of the Russian School and one of the most important personalities of Russian music history.

At about ten, Glinka started playing the violin and the piano. He studied composition with the most distinguished teachers in central Europe, among which was Siegfried Dehn, a former student of Beethoven. Soon, he decided he wanted to create specifically Russian music, based on Russian folk tunes. We owed him the birth of "The Five" or "The Mighty Handful" counting Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, Modest Mussorgsky and César Cui as its members. Glinka was contemporary to two poets, Alexander Pushkin, who was a keen admirer and Nikolai Gogol as well as to the composer Balakirev. Glinka is also the author of "The Patriotic Song", which was the national anthem of the Russian Federation from 1991 to 2000.

6 landmark dates in the life of Glinka:

• 1828: Met Alexander Pushkin, who will become a dear friend of him

• 1830: travelled to Italy and discovers the operas by Bellini and Rossini.

• 1836: Created his first opera A Life for the Tsar, performed in Saint Petersburg in the presence of Tsar Nicholas I

• 1837-1839: Appointed instructor of the Imperial Chapel Choir

• 1852: The Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra dedicated an entire concert to him

• 1855: Met Balakirev

6 key works by Glinka: 

• 1820: First string quartet

• 1836: A Life for the Tsar, one of the first Russian operas to be known outside Russia

• 1837-1842: Russian and Ludmilla, opera

• 1848: Kamarinskaya, symphonic poem based on Russian folk tunes

• 1848-1849: A Night in Madrid, for orchestra

• 1839: Valse-Fantaisie for piano