Mikhail Glinka began the concept of nationalism in Russia that would
later be carried the composers known as "The Mighty Five." His
influence on Balakirev, self-appointed leader of the later group of
five nationalist composers, was considerable. He wrote pieces that
inspired a nation to such loyalty that they would give up there
lives for Mother Russia. He was truly an influential composer.
Glinka was born in Smolensk in 1804. He was influenced by the Russian folk songs and church bells that were heard throughout the church. He went to school in St. Petersburg until 1822. After graduating, he earned a meager wage as a singer and pianist. Beginning in 1830, he grew distrustful of the Italian opera style and moved to Berlin where he received his first formal training in composition under Siegfried Dehn. He came back to Russia when he heard that his father was dead. He married a short time after that event.
Shortly after this, he began to compose his first opera, The Life for a Tsar. It was very successful. It would go on to be his most famous work. He composed another opera after that, but due to the distraction of a divorce, it was not very successful. Nevertheless, it still had some of Glinka's best music. He went to Paris after the dismal performance, where he was acquainted with Hector Berlioz.
In 1848, he composed the orchestral piece, Kamarinskaya. This
piece greatly influenced Peter I.
Tchaikovsky and "The Mighty Five." The piece contained a single
melody with a developing accompaniment. The harmony went through as
many as 70 changes while the melody remained the same. In his final
years he returned to Paris and then Berlin, where he died in
His Famous Compositions
His notable pieces include, A Life for a Tsar, Ruslan and
Lyudmila, Jota aragonesa and Kamarinskaya. He was very influential
and these pieces would go on to mold the music of later Russian
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