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biography - Alexander Porfyrevich Borodin

Alexander Porfyrevich Borodin (November 12, 1833 - February 27, 1887) was a Russian composer who made his living as a chemist. He was a member of The Five, a group of composers dedicated to producing a specifically Russian music.

Borodin was born in Saint Petersburg, the illegitimate son of a prince who had him registered instead as the son of one of his serfs. He received a good education, including piano lessons, but it was chemistry in which he specialised, and he did not receive any formal lessons in composition until 1863, when he was taught by Mily Balakirev.

In 1869, Balakirev conducted Borodin's first symphony, and in the same year, Borodin started on his second symphony. This new symphony was a failure at its premiere, but Franz Liszt arranged a performance of it in Germany in 1880, and this brought Borodin some fame outside Russia.

Also in 1869, Borodin began work on his opera, Prince Igor, seen by some to be his most significant piece. It contains the Polovtsian Dances, which are often performed as a stand-alone work, and in that form probably constitute his best known composition. Borodin left the opera incomplete at his death, composition being slowed by his heavy workload as a chemist. It was completed posthumously by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov.

Despite being recognised as an accomplished composer, Borodin always earned a living as a chemist, and gained great respect in that field also, being particularly noted for his work on aldehydes. As a result, he was not as prolific a composer as many of his contemporaries, but he did write the popular symphonic poem In the Steppes of Central Asia, two string quartets and a handful of songs and piano pieces. He also started work on a third symphony, but that, also, was incomplete at his death (two movements of it were later completed by Glazunov).


recommended recordings

Alexander Borodin: String Quartets No. 1 In A And No. 2 In D
Alexander Borodin: String Quartets No. 1 In A And No. 2 In D
Performer: Dmitri Shebalin, Andrei Abramenkov

Track List

1. Str Qt No.1 in A: First Movt: Moderato-Allegro
2. Str Qt No.1 in A: Second Movt: Andante con moto
3. Str Qt No.1 in A: Third Movt: Scherzo (Prestissimo)
4. Str Qt No.1 in A: Fourth Movt: Andante-Allegro risoluto
5. Str Qt No.2 in D: First Movt: Allegro moderato
6. Str Qt No.2 in D: Second Movt: Scherzo (Allegro)
7. Str Qt No.2 in D: Third Movt: Notturno (Andante)
8. Str Qt No.2 in D: Fourth Movt: Finale (Andante-Vivace) 

Borodin: Polovtsian Dances/Symphony Nos.2 & 3

Track List

1. Prince Igor - Overture
2. In the Steppes of Central Asia
3. Sym No.2 in b: Allegro
4. Sym No.2 in b: Scherzo (Prestissimo)
5. Sym No.2 in b: Andante
6. Sym No.2 in b: Finale (Allegro)
7. Sym No.3 in a (unfinished): Moderato assai
8. Sym No.3 in a (unfinished): Scherzo (Vivo)
9. Polovtsian Dances (Prince Igor): Dance No.8
10. Polovtsian Dances (Prince Igor): Dance No.17 

Click here to learn more about Borodin: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 & 3
Borodin: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2 & 3
Conductor: Andrew Davis, Saulius Sondeckis
Label: Sony

Track List

Disc: 1

1. Sym No.1 In E flat: I. Adagio-Allegro-Andantino
2. Sym No.1 In E flat: II. Scherzo. Prestissimo - 
   Trio. Allegro-Prestissimo
3. Sym No.1 In E flat: III. Andante
4. Sym No.1 In E flat: IV. Allegro Molto Vivo
5. Sym No.2 In b: I. Allegro - Animato Assai
6. Sym No.2 In b: II. Scherzo. Prestissimo-Allegretto-Tempo I
7. Sym No.2 In b: III. Andante
8. Sym No.2 In b: IV. Finale. Allegro

Disc: 2

1. Sym No.3 In a: I. Moderato Assai
2. Sym No.3 In a: II. Scherzo. Vivo-Trio. Moderato-Tempo I
3. Notturno From Str Qt No.2 In D: Andante - Saulius Sondeckis
4. In The Steppes Of Central Asia: Allegretto Con Moto -
   New York Phil/Leonard Bernstein
5. Prince Igor: Ov
6. Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances 

Click here to learn more about Borodin - Symphony No.2 / In The Steppes Of Central Asia/Prince Igor
Borodin - Symphony No.2 / In The Steppes Of Central Asia/Prince Igor

Track List

1. Sym No.2 in b: Allegro
2. Sym No.2 in b: Scherzo: Prestissmo; Allegretto
3. Sym No.2 in b: Andante
4. Sym No.2 in b: Finale: Allegro
5. In The Steps Of Central Asia
6. Prince Igor: Ov
7. Prince Igor: March
8. Prince Igor: Dance Of The Polovtsian Maidens
9. Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances - John Alldis Chor/Loris Tjeknavorian 


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