Musorgsky and His Circle: A Russian Musical Adventure

Musorgsky and His Circle: A Russian Musical Adventure

by Stephen Walsh
     
 

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The extraordinary group of Russian composers who came together in St Petersburg in the 1860s - long known as 'The Mighty Handful', but, as the moguchaya kuchka, better translated as 'the great little heap' - gave rise to one of the most fascinating and colourful stories in all musical history.

Stephen Walsh, author of a major biography of their direct

Overview

The extraordinary group of Russian composers who came together in St Petersburg in the 1860s - long known as 'The Mighty Handful', but, as the moguchaya kuchka, better translated as 'the great little heap' - gave rise to one of the most fascinating and colourful stories in all musical history.

Stephen Walsh, author of a major biography of their direct successor, Stravinsky, has written an absorbing account of Musorgsky and his circle - Borodin, Cui, Balakirev and Rimsky-Korsakov. With little or no musical education they created works of lasting significance - Musorgsky's Boris Godunov, Borodin's Prince Igor and Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade. Written with deep understanding and panache, The Kuchka, is highly engaging and a significant contribution to cultural history.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In the mid-1860s, Russian music leapt forward because of five modestly trained but immodestly talented composers including Modest Musorgsky. Critic/musicologist Walsh explains why this blazing moment occurred
Publishers Weekly
09/23/2013
Less than 200 years ago, there was no definitively Russian style of musical composition; by the 1860s, a handful of daring, untrained composers known as the Moguchaya Kuchka (“Mighty Little Heap”), including the brooding genius Modest Musorgsky, had collaboratively invented the New Russian school of classical music. Though their technical proficiency was constantly called into question, Musorgsky and his compatriots (among them Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov) determinedly created music untouched by outside (i.e., Western) influences, choosing to remain independent from conventional wisdom. Walsh, who in Stravinsky wrote about another great Russian composer, meticulously details the absorbing lives of these idiosyncratic Russians—their hypocrisies, internal and external rivalries—all with a careful eye trained on the qualities that made the Kuchka’s music so revolutionary. While Walsh, a former Cardiff music professor, writes with a technical proficiency, his goal—to produce a history of the New Russians that is “both scholarly and readable”—falls shy of the mark. Sadly, his tone is dryly academic, and the narrative confusingly jumps back and forth in time. That said, toward the last third of the book, Walsh finally picks up the pace of the narrative. (Dec.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385350488
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/03/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
496
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Stephen Walsh is a professor of music at Cardiff University and the author of a number of books on musical subjects. He was deputy music critic of The Observer for nearly twenty years. He now broadcasts frequently on BBC Radio 3 and writes reviews for a variety of publications. His two-volume Stravinsky is regarded as the standard biography of that composer. The first volume won the Royal Philharmonic Society prize in 2000, and the second was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by The Washington Post.

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