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russian opera

The seeds of a distinctively national art music in Russia are usually dated from the first half of the 19th century. The performance of the opera A Life for the Tsar (1836), by Mikhail GLINKA, is usually cited as the turning point for Russian music (Russia's national anthem is taken from this opera). In this historical opera, as well as in his subsequent opera Ruslan and Ludmila (1842), the orchestral fantasy Kamarinskaya (1848), and numerous songs, Glinka successfully fused the typicalmelodies, harmonies, and rhythms of Russian folk music with the forms and techniques of Italian opera -- creating an eclectic but unmistakably national idiom. Glinka's younger contemporary, Alexander DARGOMYZHSKY, is best known for hisinfluence on subsequent nationalist composers through his posthumously produced opera The Stone Guest (1872), a radicalattempt to promote musical realism by abandoning the forms and conventions of traditional opera in favor of continuousrecitative. The FIVE, or the Mighty Five, is the label given to a group of Russian composers that formed during the 1860s. Supportedby the influential critic Vladimir Stasov (1824-1906), the Five -- Mily BALAKIREV, Aleksandr BORODIN, CesarCUI,Modest MUSORGSKY, and Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV -- sought to legitimize the goals and achievements ofnationalistic music and to oppose the dominance of Western musical influences. Although linked by common propagandisticaims and by the characteristic absence of formal musical education, the composers wrote in differing styles. The most lastingmusical achievements were made by Borodin, Mussorgsky, and Rimsky-Korsakov. Borodin is noted for his use of Russianorientalisms in works such as In the Steppes of Central Asia (1880) and his opera Prince Igor. In his numerous operas onhistorical and fairy-tale subjects, as well as in the well-known symphonic suite Scheherazade (1891), Rimsky-Korsakovexploited the unusual modal tendencies of Russian folk music...

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