Speaker John Alrey talking about – The Great Russian Composers

John Alrey, a classical music enthusiast, told Bishopsteignton Probus Club about the great Russian composers, starting with Mikhail Glinka, who was born in 1804 and had only a limited musical education. The first of his two great operas was entitled “A Life for the Tsar” which tells the story of the Russian peasant and patriotic hero Ivan Susanin who sacrificed his life for the Tsar by leading astray a group of marauding Poles who were hunting the Tsar. The work was a great success and John Alrey played an extract for the Probus Club.   Glinka’s second opera was not so well-received, he felt dejected and travelled to Spain and France, dying in 1857.

John informed his audience that Mily Balakirev (born 1837) set up “The Russian Five” composers who were strongly influenced by the pioneering work undertaken by Mikhail Glinka.  Mily Balakirev was mentor to two members of the Five, Cesar Cui and Modest Mussorgsky.  Nicolay Rimsky-Korsakov (born 1844), a naval officer, was the most active of the Five with a strength in orchestration.  The fifth member was Aleksandr Borodin (born 1833), a scientist (chemist), who was a pianist with an interest in composing.

John Alrey played further musical extracts before talking about Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (born 1840), the most popular and successful Russian composer ever, who was influenced by Russian folk music.  His compositions included “Romeo and Juliet”, “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake”, an extract of which was then played.

ATTACHED PHOTO: Probus Club vice chairman David Carpenter-Clawson, left, thanked the speaker, John Alrey.

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