Russian Five


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Russian Five

 

(Moguchaia kuchka, literally, the “Mighty Bunch”), a creative grouping of Russian composers that emerged between the late 1850’s and early 1860’s; also known as the New Russian School of Music and the Balakirev Circle. The Russian Five included M. A. Balakirev (the leader), A. P. Borodin, C. A. Cui, M. P. Mussorgsky, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, and, for a short time, N. N. Lodyzhenskii, A. S. Gussakovskii, and N. V. Shcherbachev. The artistic program and aesthetics of the Russian Five developed under the influence of the democratic ideology of the 1860’s, particularly, the views of the critic V. V. Stasov, who gave the group its name in the article “Mr. Balakirev’s Slavic Concert” (1867).

Heirs and successors to the traditions of M. I. Glinka and A. S. Dargomyzhskii, the Russian Five also sought new forms in which to embody themes and images from Russia’s past and present. They endeavored to bring music close to life’s essential needs. The operas of Mussorgsky (Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina), Borodin (Prince Igor), and Rimsky-Korsakov (The Maid of Pskov, for example) reflect Russian history, convey the elemental power of popular movements, and embody patriotic ideas and social criticism. Pictures of peasant life, folktales, and folk epics are also important in the group’s symphonic works, most of which are programmatic, as well as in their vocal chamber music. The members of the Russian Five highly valued the folk song, which was one of the most important sources of their musical language. As a cohesive militant group, the Russian Five ceased to exist in the mid-1870’s, but its ideas and creative principles had a positive influence on the subsequent development of Russian music and on the formation of national schools among other peoples of the USSR.

REFERENCES

Stasov, V. V. “Dvadtsaf piaf’ let russkogo iskusstva.” Sobr. soch., vol. 1. St. Petersburg, 1894.
Asafev, B. V. Izbr. trudy, vol. 3. Moscow, 1954.
Rimsky-Korsakov, N. A. Letopis* moei muzykarnoi zhizni [7th ed.]. Moscow, 1955.
Kremlev, lu. Russkaia mysV o muzyke, vol. 2. Leningrad, 1958.
Gordeeva, E. M. Moguchaia kuchka, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966.

IU. V. KELDYSH [16-1154-^]

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