Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin (1833-1887)
Alexander Borodin was a member of the “The Five”, a group of Russian composers who in the mid-1800s rejected foreign influences and dedicated themselves to creating music inspired by their nation’s heritage. The opera Prince Igor is Borodin’s magnum opus, with its Polovetsian Dances remaining a concert hall favorite.
The illegitimate son of a Georgian nobleman, he was given a first rate education in science and music (piano and cello), becoming an MD and a surgeon, and also earning a doctorate in chemistry (1858), which he taught as of 1862. The same year, he joined Balakirev, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Cesar Cui, turning to writing nationalist music and forming the group that came to be known as “The Five”, while remaining an avid chamber music player.
Although he was the most gifted melodist of them all and a master of the instrumental form, he considered himself to be “a Sunday composer who wishes to remain obscure”.
However, his vocation as a chemist and teacher, as well as his activities on behalf of women’s rights left him little time for music.
Nevertheless, he composed symphonies, chamber music, works for piano and solo songs.
His sudden death from heart failure at age 53 prevented him from finishing his most famous opera, Prince Igor, which was completed by his friends Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov.
Made famous outside the Russian Empire during his lifetime by Franz Liszt, Borodin’s music influenced composers Debussy and Ravel.
Nikolai Pavlovich Budashkin (1910-1988)
Born in a music-loving family, Nikolai P. Budashkin (1910-1988) learnt as a little boy about folk instruments and musical notation from his father. In 1929, he entered the Moscow Conservatory and graduated in 1937 in composition class. While composing scores for the theatre and film, he also started, in 1965, a teaching career.
His compositions make extensive use of Russian folk instruments.