Personalities | Alexander Borodin | Late Romantic | Classical

(A-lex-an’-der Bô-ro-den’) 1833–87
Russian composer

Borodin joined Balakirev’s circle known as ‘The Five’ while an army doctor in 1861. He later became a professor of chemistry and founded a school of medicine for women in St Petersburg, yet in his spare time composed a highly polished, if small, output. His melodic style draws on folk music reworked into compelling symphonic forms. He composed two important symphonies, the symphonic poem In the Steppes of Central Asia (1880), songs and chamber music, including three still-popular string quartets. His monumental opera Prince Igor (1869–70, completed 1874–87) is unified through the use of a few folk-like themes and abounds in spectacular tableaux and dances, including the famous ‘Polovtsian Dances’, spiced with percussion and chorus. Borodin’s sudden death left his opera to be completed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov.

Recommended Recording:
Prince Igor, soloists, Kirov Opera Chorus & Orchestra (cond) Valery Gergiev (Philips/Decca)

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