The Dawning of Classical Music in Russia
Born on 1 June 1804, Mikhail Glinka became the first composer to gain wide recognition in Russia. He is considered by many to be the father of Russian classical music and an important influence on The Five, a group of his fellow compatriot composers including Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin.
During a stay in Berlin, Glinka became enamored with Maria Petrovna Ivanova, who became his wife. Although Glinka was a sweet and loving man, the marriage was short-lived; Maria had little interest in his music and was even downright rude about it! It is said that this first act of his opera A Life for the Tsar was inspired by his fondness for the woman who eventually caused him so much grief. This was to be the first of his two great operas, the second being Ivan Susanin, the story of a Russian peasant and patriotic hero. Outside of his country, many know him best for the brilliantly energetic overture to his intial failture of an opera: Ruslan and Lyudmila.
No less than three Russian conservatoires are named after Glinka, a strong reflection of the level of his influence over classical music in his homeland. His beginnings fostered a strong and rich tradition of classical music that has left us many of the great songs we love today. Listen to the famous aria from Glinka's A Life for the Tsar on this fabulous compilation of Russian arias.