Mily Balakirev (1837-1910): composer, pianist, piano teacher and composer.
An important musician for the development of the ‘Mighty Handful’ nationalist style and for the establishment of the ‘Free School’ conservatory.
He supported Tchaikovsky and (in connection with the nationalist intellectual Stasov) also the members of the ‘Mighty Handful’ in creating a new Russian style rather than simply imitating traditional Western music. Both Stasov and Balakirev intended continuing the folkoliristic legacy of Glinka. Although Balakirev was one of the few Russian music professionals of his time, he encouraged his colleagues to be amateurs so that academic knowledge would not corrupt their creativity. Rimsky-Korsakov would later regret the lack of formal training in harmony and counterpoint among ‘The Mighty Handful’.
Balakirev supported many musicians of his time like Glazunov and Lyadov.
Later most of this musicians abandoned the radical musical ideas of Balakirev and joined the Belyayev circle which tried to find a compromise between the two styles of Western academic music and Russian nationalism.
According to Rimsky-Korsakov, Balakirev was a revolutionary while the members of the Belyayev circle were progressive (in the sense of being reformers).
Later in his life Balakirev suffered from a nervous background (probably because financial problems had forced him to devote less time to music, his passion) which had a negative impact in his ability to produce new compositions.
He recovered from the nervous breakdown with a renewed faith in Orthodox Christianity.
MY FAVOURITE WORKS:
-Grande Fantasie on Russian Folk Songs, Op. 4, for piano and orchestra (1852)
-Fantasy on Glinka’s opera “A Life for the Tsar” (1855)
-Overture on Three Russian Themes (1858)
-Song of the Volga Boatmen (1866)
-Symphony 1 (1866)
-In Bohemia (1867)