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Glinka, Mikhail (1804-1857)

Mikhail Glinka

born: 1 June 1804
died: 15 February 1857
country: Russia

It was not until the early 1860s that a formal music conservatoire was established in Russia, initially directed by the great Anton Rubinstein, who founded the St Petersburg Imperial Conservatoire in 1862. His younger brother Nikolai became director of the rival Moscow Conservatoire when it opened in 1866.

It would be wrong, of course, to assume that no musical education existed before 1862; and if – equally – one cannot claim that no Russian composer flourished before Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857), there is no doubt that he was the first truly important Russian composer, considered by Russians to be the ‘musical acorn’ from which the mighty oak tree of Russian music was to grow.

When Louis Spohr visited St Petersburg in 1802 he was surprised to learn that the city’s musical life was dominated entirely by foreign musicians. More than a century earlier the Eastern Orthodox Church, which remained a powerful governing force, had proclaimed a ukase which instructed that ‘musical instruments were to be broken up and burned’ – and not merely, it seemed, in places of worship (although the Church does not permit musical instruments to this day). It was into this ethnically empty musical world that Mikhail Glinka was born in 1804. Fortunately, his father’s wealth and cultural aspirations enabled him to study music after a fashion, but the youth was determined, if possible, to bring a Russian character into the music which he wanted to write. This was not easy; nor was it soon achieved.

from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 2001

Albums

Glinka & Tchaikovsky: Piano Trios
CDH55322Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Glinka: Grand Sextet; Rimsky-Korsakov: Quintet
CDH55173Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Balakirev: Piano Sonata & other works
CDA67806
Caprices & Fantasies
CDH55130Helios (Hyperion's budget label) — Last few CD copies remaining
Echoes of a Waterfall
CDH55128Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
English Poets, Russian Romances
CDA67274Please, someone, buy me …
Liszt: Complete Piano Music
CDS44501/9899CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 54 – Liszt at the Opera VI
CDA67406/72CDs
Liszt: The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 6 – Liszt at the Opera I
CDA66371/22CDs
Pushkin Romances
CDA67773
Rimsky-Korsakov: Quintet; Glinka: Grand Sextet
CDH55173Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Russian Images, Vol. 1
CDA67105
Russian Images, Vol. 2
CDA67205
Souvenirs de Venise
CDH55217Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Tchaikovsky & Glinka: Piano Trios
CDH55322Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Complete works available for download

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