“Borodin possesses talent, a very great talent, which, however, has come to nothing… because blind fate has led him into the science laboratories” (Tchaikovsky) 
Alexander Borodin (1833-1887): Russian composer. He obtained a degree in medicine and became a University lecturer in chemistry when he was 28. To this day Borodin is still a well-known scientist due to his contributions on the study of fluorine.
He also organised the first course in medicine for women in Russia.
Music, instead, was his second life (‘ I am a Sunday composer’ as Borodin used to say): since he was a child he practiced various musical instruments as an autodidact. He became friend with Liszt, and when he visited Europe he had a chance to be at live performances where Wagner’s music was played. In 1862 he met Balakirev (to take lessons in composition) who had just founded ‘The Free Music School’ in St.Petersburg in opposition to the Tsarist music conservatory (led by the musically German-oriented Anton Rubinstein). Later Balakirev introduced Borodin to the ‘The Mighty Handful’ (Могучая кучка) or the ‘Group of Five’: a group of amateur musicians that wanted to create a national Russian style of music, rather than following a strict academicism that would simply be a copy of European music.
Borodin’s music, indeed, often reflects his interests in the Russian folklore-for example ‘Prince Igor’, the story of a Russian prince fighting against the Mongols.
Borodin died during a party (for a sudden heart attack) at just 53, leaving many of his works unfinished.
MY FAVOURITE WORKS:
-Piano trio in D major (1861). Especially the Andante (IInd movement)
-Symphony 1 (1875)
-Contribution to the Paraphrases on the “Cutlet Polka” (1878)
-String Quartet No.1 (1879)
-String Quartet No.2 (1881)
-In the Steppes of Central Asia (1882)
-Petite Suite (1885)
-Prince Igor (1887* unfinished)