Mikhail Glinka


originates from an old Polish noble family from the Smolensk Governorate which, prior to its integration into Russia inaseventeenth-centurywar, constituted a part of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania. His ancestors converted to Eastern-Orthodox Christianity and became Russian subjects, keeping their aristocratic privileges, coats of arms and lands. He spent his childhood in the family estate in Novospaskoe, where the future founder of the national Russian school of composition absorbed early on the peculiar features of Russian folk song. But at the same time he listened to the musical pieces of the European classical music performed by his uncle’s private serf ensemble and was interested in the European music of the day. In the 1830s he travelled to Italy to study singing, made the acquaintances of Bellini and Donizetti, and subsequently studied composition with Siegfried Denn in Berlin, travelled throughout Austria, France and Spain, established extended contacts with contemporary artists, and in Paris excerpts from his works were conducted by Berlioz himself. But upon his return to Russia, Glinka became deeply conscious of his mission as a national composer and already with his first opera Ivan Sussanin (for reasons of censorship it was originally entitled Life for the Tsar), completed in 1836 defined a clear aesthetic platform for the national Russian opera, to which generations of artists adhered.


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