A fascinating collective biography of Musorgsky and the composers he associated with, creators of some of the best-known and most admired music of the 19th century.
The emergence of Russian music in the 19th century comprises one of the most fascinating and colorful stories in all musical history. Arising from the unlikely conjunction of a group of composers of extraordinary originality but almost no technical training, it led to the creation of works ranging from Musorgsky's magnificent opera Boris Godunov to Borodin's (alas unfinished) Prince Igor and such orchestral staples as Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. How this happened where it did--in the St. Petersburg of the 1860s--and the nature and genius of the men responsible is the subject of this brilliant study.
As both an experienced biographer able to deal with original Russian sources and a musicologist competent to bring wonderfully fresh insights to the music of the five composers--the moguchaya kuchka or "mighty heap," as they were called--Stephen Walsh is exceptionally placed to illuminate a dramatic but little-known episode of cultural history. Written with deep understanding and panache, Musorgsky and His Circle is as engaging as it is important.
About Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh is a critic and musicologist. He is the author of a number of books on composers ranging from Schumann to Bartók. The first volume of this biography, Stravinsky: A Creative Spring: Russia and France 1882–1934, was published in 1999. Walsh teaches at Cardiff University.