Mikhail Glinka, classical music composer

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Mikhail Glinka


Regarded as the father of Russian music, Mikhail Glinka was the first native composer to gain widespread recognition throughout his country. Though later composers would gain much more recognition and popularity for their works, Glinka was nevertheless instrumental in establishing a Russian style of music that had a strong influence over the group of nationalistic composers known as The Five.

Born in the villiage of Novospasskoye on June 1, 1804, Glinka was the son of a wealthy retired army captain whose family had a loyal tradition of service to the Tsar. He was raised, however, by his over-protective grandmother and her constant coddling of him resulted in his frail health in adulthood. Even more so, he was seldom let out of her room and thus as a child experienced little music, save for the village church bells and the folk songs of peasant choirs. Following his grandmother's death, Glinka lived at his uncle's estate where he was able to experience the works of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. He became increasingly interested in music and began regular instruction on the piano and violin.

At the age of thirteen, he left his uncle's estate for St. Petersburg to attend a school for children of the nobility. He continued his piano lessons, which included three lessons with John Field, and began composing. After finishing school, he took a post as an assistant secretary of the Department of Public Highways. Glinka's workload was light and left him ample time to compose and attend social gatherings throughout the city.

In 1830, Glinka travelled to Italy, accompanied by the tenor Nikolay Ivanov, and settled in Milan. He took compositions lessons at the Milan Conservatory and met both Mendelssohn and Berlioz. Though he spent three years in Italy, absorbing its music and culture, Glinka eventually became dissatisfied with the country and determined to return to Russia. His course home took him first to Vienna where heard the music of Franz Liszt; then to Berlin where he stayed for five months. His father's death in 1834, however, hastened his departure from Berlin and he returned quickly to his hometown.

Two years later, in 1836, Glinka premiered his first opera, A Life for the Tsar. The Tsar himself took a great interest in the opera and after its resounding success at its premiere, rewarded the composer with an expensive ring. The next year, he was appointed by the Tsar as the instructor of the Imperial Chapel Choir. Glinka's second opera, Ruslan and Lyudmila, followed quickly but suffered initially from a muddled plot. Disappointed with its lackluster premiere in 1842, Glinka once again left Russia to travel throughout Europe.

On this occasion, Glinka travelled to Paris and Spain, and he even settled in the former for two years in 1852. After Paris, he moved to Berlin in late 1856 where, five months later, he passed away suddenly on February 15, 1857 after catching a cold.

Composer Title Date Action
Mikhail Glinka The Lark 02/20/2012 Play Add to playlist
Mikhail Glinka The Lark 03/26/2012 Play Add to playlist
Mikhail Glinka Elegy 12/24/2011 Play
Mikhail Glinka Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila 06/03/2013 Play Add to playlist
Mikhail Glinka The Lark 04/08/2017 Play Add to playlist